If You Need Me, Call and I Will Be There

Finalist essay from the 2014 CURE Extraordinary Healer Award Essay Contest.

The journey has been long and hard, and the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be an oncoming train instead of a ray of hope. After many visits, to many states, to see many aides, nurses, assistants and doctors; Ann Todd, of Indiana University Health Oncology, has managed to show us what patient care is all about. And, that oncoming train has miraculously left the tracks.

It all began with a CT scan to check the esophagus. There is no way we could have expected or been prepared for the results … esophageal cancer at the g-junction. Upon further examination, the cancer had spread to the liver, as well. Being stage 4, we knew the odds were not in our favor and there was no real cure.

It is amazing how quickly your life turns upside down when you receive news of cancer. And, you are not the only one affected. Your family members, friends, loved ones, work colleagues, and the list goes on.

There are so many good oncology teams in this country treating cancer and it is difficult assessing the abilities of the caregivers knowing that there can never be an apples-to-apples comparison based on the needs and differences of each and every patient. We have traveled the Midwest seeking care, so we have experienced many differences in patient care.

Many years ago, my golden retriever was very ill, so I carried him to my vehicle and took him to the vet. Upon arrival, the doctor came to the back of my vehicle, crawled in, held him, and cried. I tell you this story because that is the standard that I set in all care. The bar can never be set high enough when it comes to patient care. There have been many who have come close; however, Anne Todd has reached that level of care and concern for her patients.

Anne has given professionalism a new meaning. Yes, it is one thing to be professional; however, it is something completely different when professionalism is blended with compassion, care, empathy, concern, understanding, and overall awareness of the needs of those she is serving. A good meal can be quickly ruined by poor service, just as with patient care.

Outside of the appointments, Anne calls on a regular basis to make sure everything is okay and ask if there is anything she could do to make the family more comfortable. Anne made arrangements with her church to help supply needed funds to purchase nutrition since the insurance company did not cover this expense. Anne also pulled together a few of her friends and came over to help clean the home, do laundry, and though she claims not to know what to cook, she offered to prepare food as well.

I was taught the best thing you can do for another is to give of yourself and that is why I truly believe Anne Todd has risen to that standard.The thing that stands out most in my mind is what Anne did outside the office. Anne, with a few others, made arrangements to send the family to Disney World over the Christmas holiday. With medical bills, medications and other expenses, there is no money for things like trips or even Christmas gifts. Anne and her friends made sure there was a Christmas for the family. Nothing was left undone. Transportation, lodging, money, medication, and nutrition were all arranged so the family could enjoy this precious time together. Anne and those involved were not part of the rich and famous (though they deserve to be). They gave up timeshares, frequent flier miles, and took-up a collection to make sure the family wanted for nothing during this trip.

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
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