Nurses play a critical role after a breast cancer diagnosis. Did you know that May is Oncology Nursing Month? In recognition of their hard word, Living Beyond Breast Cancer is featuring stories from our readers in celebration of their oncology nurses. Here an LBBC Volunteer, Tim Miller, shares a very special letter from his wife.
Hi, my name is Timothy Miller. When I first heard that LBBC was honoring oncology nurses this month, I knew that I had to write this blog. My beautiful wife, Kim, was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2007 and lost her battle on January 2nd 2011. My wife loved her doctor, Nancy Lewis, very much; she is the most incredible doctor to our family. But Kim would always talk about how she loved “her girls.” Her oncology nurses were always there for her every need. A bad day in the hospital can set a cancer patient back for a week. I don’t think oncology nurses get the credit they deserve, because they do it all! From giving meds, to doing inter-personal things, but most of all the compassion they give is incredible. The last year of Kim’s life was very tough on her and our whole family. From August until the day before thanksgiving, she was in the Jefferson hospital 3rd floor oncology unit—three months is a long time. I had to work and take care of two boys and when I couldn’t make it up there she would say, “Don’t worry, my girls got me! I couldn’t make it without my girls.”
Right before Kim went in the hospital in August, we found out she needed chemo for the first time since her first round when she was diagnosed. We went to a park on her 46th birthday and took family pictures before she lost her hair; it was a very special day for us. The next day, everything went crazy and she was admitted to the hospital for her three month stay. Kim decided to shave her hair so she would not get upset over every piece that fell out. There was a wonderful oncology nurse named Megan in Jefferson’s oncology unit. That day she had finished her shift but she came to check on Kim. Megan helped us take care of Kim’s hair and stayed with us during that traumatic moment in our lives. When I told my son, Brian, that I was going to write this blog, he said, “Write about that pretty nurse that helped us shave mommy hair.”
I believe that life is about the little moments that come up. This one moment in my family’s lives consisted of a wonderful oncology nurse named Megan who stepped in to our moment and helped us get through it. After Kim passed away, I was going through a few of her things. I found a letter she was writing to the president of Jefferson Hospital about her treatment there, but more importantly, about “her girls” who helped her through the worst time of her life. She loved those girls! I truly wanted to print her letter for this blog as her final “shout-out” to her girls on the 3rd floor oncology unit at Jefferson hospital—thank you girls from the bottom of my heart. ~ Tim Miller
“To whom it may concern,
President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson Hospital Administration
Dear Mr. So & So,
I am a fourth stage breast cancer patient in your hospital (August 2010) and I thought I would take the time to write this letter to share my appreciation to you and your staff, right down the line from the kitchen workers to the doctors. Everyone was great. I’ve had cancer for four years now and I went to other hospitals as well, but the treatment at Jeff was outstanding. My nurses made me feel really comfortable and they were so nice and cheerful. Jaclyn, Megan, Eleanor: I think these people deserve stars and should be appreciated for the job well done that they do every day. When you love your job, it shows, and they show it! I was taken down for a few tests, but this one stands out: Rayal* was the tech’s name and from the second he walked up to me he had a big smile, laughing and talking. To me they were like welcoming friends, and that’s what I needed. He is a great guy who started my day off very good even being in the hospital. I still had good days and bad days, but looking back on my stay at Jeff, I’m not afraid to go back because I know that way I am going to be treated and that’s half the stress right there—knowing I can concentrate on getting well.
*Exact spelling unavailable