dear nurse sarah (and co.): thank you for saving my life

Before I am completely buried under the growing piles of boxes that surround me, before tomorrow comes along and sweeps me up in one work drama or another, I need to take a minute and offer some thoughts on yesterday’s three-month checkup.

As I sat in the waiting room yesterday morning, paying particular attention to a very young woman seated across from me, I tried as always to concentrate on my book and tune out the televised blatherings of Good Morning America. Then suddenly I looked up and saw a familiar, smiling face. It had been almost two years since I’d seen her, but I felt an instant rush of affection and recognition. NURSE SARAH!

My team of caregivers was an extensive and ever-changing crew – headed, of course, by my fearless gyn-onc Christina Chu.  But Sarah, a supremely compassionate, gifted and funny nurse practitioner, was with me from my first in-patient chemo in February to the last one in June.  I loved so many of the people who took care of me, but secretly (and now, not so secretly) Sarah was always my favorite –  one of those special people who you meet in a shitty circumstance (i.e. while being treated for cancer) and think, “Wow, you’re so cool.  If I met you outside of Cancerland, I would totally want to hang out with you and be your friend.”

So it was with surprise and delight that I spied Sarah in the waiting room yesterday.  She greeted me with a huge, warm hug, and sat down with me to check in and see how I was doing.   She commented repeatedly, her eyes wide with glee, on how fantastic I looked (nothing a cancer warrior loves to hear more; cancer has, in fact, made me far more vain than I ever thought I could be), and asked after my husband.  I told her about the recent news of the HNPCC mutation, the lingering neuropathy in my feet and my adventures as a runner.   She cheered the news of our impending move to South Jersey (where she, too, lives) and gave me another great big hug before heading back into the exam suite.

I waited for a few more minutes after our encounter before being called back for my appointment, but suddenly my heart was so much lighter, my nerves so much calmer. Seeing Sarah, remembering the condition I was in when we were last together on Silverstein Seven, and having her react to me in the here and now with such utter delight and positivity – it just lifted me up, made me that much more aware of the triumph that is my life.

Not surprisingly, the checkup was – as weird as it sounds – almost pleasant, and filled with good news: I can finally have my chest port removed.   I have finally graduated to checkups every four months instead of every three.  During the course of my conversation with my doctor, I found myself being more assertive and proactive with my questions and concerns – something I continually strive to do.   And today, one day after my visit, I got the call – which usually takes weeks – that my CA125 is normal (which I knew it would be, given my recent clean CT scan, but it’s always nice to hear.)   Of course, I attribute all of this good momentum to my encounter with Sarah.

Maybe it’s because the two year anniversary of finishing treatment is approaching, but after yesterday, I find myself feeling a touch nostalgic for the people who saved my life. It surprises me to realize how easy it has been to lose sight of them.   I see my oncologist often, and I love her firm handshake and the way she always apologizes for the cold speculum, but the truth is, while she is the one who cut me open and removed my cancer and set the course of my treatment, there were dozens of people without whom I never would have made it.

So to them, right now, I just want to offer a heartfelt – and never-ending – thank you.

This entry was posted in Life After Cancer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to dear nurse sarah (and co.): thank you for saving my life

  1. I am ecstatic for you!

    It is so difficult to put into words just how special those people who are for us truly are. I remember my “Nurse Sarah” brushing my hair at night when the hospital was very loud and I couldn’t sleep or my other “Nurse Sarah” when she hugged me following chemotherapy and offered reassurances and inspiration to keep going.

    Ah, that gratitude, for so much…

    I cannot tell you how much I love your blog!

  2. Anna D'Ambrosio (Sarah's Mom) says:

    You brought me to tears. She was born that way and has always been my angel. I am sorry for your illness but so glad you got to meet my Sarie! God Bless You and keep you well! Regards, Anna

  3. Marian Billstein ( Sarah's Aunt) says:

    We are all proud of Sarah and her hard work and dedication to her patients. I’m glad she was there for you to comfort you through your illness. God Bless you and I hope you have continued good health. Regards, Marian.

  4. Hi Emily;

    Best wishes on the move and may your new garden thrive.

  5. Lorraine Grasso says:

    Hi Emily (one of my favorite names),
    I’ve almost always been late for everything in my life and this is no exception. My memory stinks, too, which is why I didn’t read your story before this. By the way, I am Sarah’s favorit aunt. 🙂 Just kidding, but a very proud aunt at that! Sarah has ALWAYS been a very compassionate and intelligent person, which I believe makes her one of the best nurses that there is anywhere. I’m SO glad you got the opportunity to get to know her and become friends. Friendship is very important, especially when you feel down and sometimes defeated. The good thing is, that it gives us a drive to fight and be the victor, which you have done wonderfully. You are a true testiment of sincere perserverance. Keep up the good fight! God Bless you!
    Sincere Regards,
    Lorraine Grasso

  6. Pingback: dreams, whiplash and pre-scope anxiety (oh my!) | See Emily Play

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *