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Connecting With The Heart

MY WIFE passed away on Feb. 2, 2014, from a six-year battle with cancer. It is my honor to nominate one angel in particular who, in the end, became much more than a nurse to my wife.
BY Andy Himes
PUBLISHED June 16, 2015
MY WIFE passed away on Feb. 2, 2014, from a six-year battle with cancer. It is my honor to nominate one angel in particular who, in the end, became much more than a nurse to my wife. Her name is Wendy and she works in the interventional radiology department at Sky Ridge Medical Center. 
 
IN EARLY 2013, my wife Rosa developed a condition called pleural effusion due to her metastatic breast cancer on both sides of her lungs. She began going to the interventional radiology department on a regular basis to have fluid drained. That is where she met Wendy. It didn’t take long before they developed a very special friendship and connection. 
 
My wife was always very cheerful and upbeat. She had a very infectious smile and the sweetest personality. She was everyone’s favorite patient because she never complained and always seemed to be happy to the point of cracking jokes here and there. 
 
When Rosa was scheduled for an appointment, it was not unusual for several nurses, including Wendy, to greet her and give her a big hug welcoming her. Consequently, going to Sky Ridge Medical Center became something she looked forward to because of all the kindness she received from everyone! 
 
Wendy took a special interest in Rosa. She not only assisted in the procedures to drain fluid, but she would also visit her over in oncology while she was undergoing chemotherapy. Wendy would simply sit and visit with Rosa, and it was just a special time for both of them as they got to know each other. When Rosa was hospitalized for the last time in January, Wendy came up to her room often to visit her and even help answer questions we may have had with all the different doctors. 
 
Rosa told me often how much she loved Wendy and wanted to schedule time outside of the hospital to get together, perhaps for dinner. We never got that chance, unfortunately. 
 
Wendy was always available for phone calls. She not only talked with Rosa if she was having an issue at home, but she was always available to me when I had questions and she often helped coordinate appointments between her department and oncology. Rosa’s condition became particularly complex as she eventually was unable to have any more fluid drained because of how thick it had become. Wendy helped us understand what was going on. 

One evening, Rosa asked the sweetest question to me. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Rosa asked me how she would go about asking Wendy if she would be her best friend! 

At Rosa’s service on Feb. 15, I played an audio clip from a visit she had with her oncologist a couple of months prior. It was Rosa at her very best. The conversation was about what to do if fluid started building up again, and Rosa was very clear on what to do: “Wendy.” She went on to joke about all the hugs she got when she went over there, and even her oncologist joked about her being in the frequent flyer club! It was a cute conversation, and I treasure it. 
 
There is so much sadness surrounding my wife’s illness and death. The journey of cancer is a very long, gut-wrenching and all-too-often painful journey. But it is also a journey of love. My wife and I shared so much love during those six years. We never stopped traveling, and we never stopped fighting this dreaded disease. We were an incredible team. Along the way, we also met countless angels of mercy. From doctors to friends, from medical providers to all the incredible nurses–and to Wendy. It is those memories and people like Wendy who will always remain instrumental in my own healing journey. 
 
I am nominating Wendy because she not only demonstrated extraordinary expertise and competence, she also went way above and beyond in sharing her heart, friendship and wonderful compassion. I think this part of medicine gets lost in this day and age of science and technology. Cancer is a dreaded disease that devastates the body, but it is also equally devastating emotionally. Wendy is a rare individual who understands healing is not just about a procedure. It is also about connecting with the heart.
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