Finding a New Friend Through Cancer
October 08, 2016 – Mack and Lacinda Frazier
Helping Me "Take Charge" After Cancer
October 01, 2016 – Jim Berrey
My Incomparable Oncology Nurse, Lilia
October 02, 2016 – Luke G. Conley III
Compassionate Cancer Care That Began With a Hug
September 19, 2016 – John G. Moisan
A Mother's Lifeline: An Amazing Oncology Nurse
September 17, 2016 – Lindsay Querin
A Lighthouse in the Storm of Cancer
September 11, 2016 – Myra Katsuki
My Extraordinary Healer Before and After Cancer Treatment
September 10, 2016 – Larinda Conrad
Finding an Unexpected Friend Through Breast Cancer
September 05, 2016 – Diane Makrinos
Good Karma From My Oncology Nurse, a Kindred Spirit
September 04, 2016 – Mary Ann Kurpinski (patient) and Linda Nabozny (sister)
My Letter to Nancy, an Extraordinary Oncology Nurse
September 03, 2016 – Shelli Greenland
The Oncology Nurse With the Pale Pink Booklet
August 28, 2016 – Tammy Wilsford
With Cancer, It's Either Laugh or Cry
August 28, 2016 – Melissa (Missy) Grace
Ray's Oncology Nurse: His Sunshine and Guardian Angel
August 20, 2016 – Raymond Dziolowski
Our Pediatric Oncology Superhero
August 21, 2016 – Glen Jusczyk on behalf of Malia Jusczyk
Our Extraordinary Home Link to the Oncologist
August 14, 2016 – Susan B. Whigham
Abby's Oncology Nurse: A Gift of Love to Our Family
August 14, 2016 – Steven Oliver
More Than Just a Cancer Nurse: Mel's Angel on Earth
August 08, 2016 – Aggie Higginbotham
A Grateful Daughter: How One Oncology Nurse Made All the Difference
August 06, 2016 – Darlene C. Terroni
Mom's Oncology Nurse: A True Lifesaver
July 31, 2016 – Cassidy Poske, daughter of Christi Poske
A Loyal Friendship Conquers Cancer's Boundaries
July 30, 2016 – Donna Clark, RN, BSN, OCN
One of the Quiet Oncology Heroes
July 24, 2016 – Lisa Barnes
My Personal Cancer Warrior
July 24, 2016 – Rosemary E. Manbachi, CRNP
A Loving and Compassionate Oncology Nurse
July 18, 2016 – Revathi Suppiah, MD
Behind the Scenes: Quietly Making Oncology Patients' Hopes a Reality
July 16, 2016 – David M. Waterhouse, MD, MPH
Holding Our Mission -- and Her Oncology Patients -- in Her Heart
July 10, 2016 – Melissa Andres, BSN, RN, OCN
On the Frontlines, Advocating for Every Child With Cancer
July 04, 2016 – Daniel W. Lee, MD
My Oncology Nurse: A Shining Star of Hope
July 03, 2016 – Jessie M. Turner
An Oncology Nurse's Perseverance to Dig Deeper
July 02, 2016 – Catherine Hugues
Just an Oncology Nurse? Not At All
June 25, 2016 – Nina Garkavi
My Oncology Nurse and Lifesaver
June 26, 2016 – Mallory Turchi
A Healer for the Heart and Soul Throughout My Cancer Journey
June 12, 2016 – Jessica Bembry, RN, BSN, OCN and Sissy Smith
An Oncology Nurse With a Million Dollar Smile and Priceless Heart
June 11, 2016 – Brandi Brethour
Making a Long-Term Commitment to Pediatric Patients: An Interview With Diana Gordon
May 29, 2016 – DIANA GORDON, RN, MSN, CPNP, CPON
A Tireless Advocate for Children With Cancer and a Beacon of Hope
May 28, 2016 – Julie Blatt, MD
Advocating for Patients With Cancer, Near and Far
May 31, 2016 – Carmi Fazio, RN, MSN, ONA
An Extraordinary Healer and So Much More
May 16, 2016 – Lisa Chapman
The Joy of Caring: An Interview With Extraordinary Healer Winner Lynne Malestic
May 22, 2016 – Lynne Malestic, RN
Blending the Art and Skill of Oncology Nursing With Boundless Compassion
May 21, 2016 – Cera Stanford, BSN, RN, PHN, NE-BC, HACP
Finding a New Friend Through Cancer
October 08, 2016 – Mack and Lacinda Frazier
Helping Me "Take Charge" After Cancer
October 01, 2016 – Jim Berrey
My Incomparable Oncology Nurse, Lilia
October 02, 2016 – Luke G. Conley III
Compassionate Cancer Care That Began With a Hug
September 19, 2016 – John G. Moisan
A Mother's Lifeline: An Amazing Oncology Nurse
September 17, 2016 – Lindsay Querin
A Lighthouse in the Storm of Cancer
September 11, 2016 – Myra Katsuki
My Extraordinary Healer Before and After Cancer Treatment
September 10, 2016 – Larinda Conrad
Finding an Unexpected Friend Through Breast Cancer
September 05, 2016 – Diane Makrinos
Good Karma From My Oncology Nurse, a Kindred Spirit
September 04, 2016 – Mary Ann Kurpinski (patient) and Linda Nabozny (sister)
My Letter to Nancy, an Extraordinary Oncology Nurse
September 03, 2016 – Shelli Greenland
The Oncology Nurse With the Pale Pink Booklet
August 28, 2016 – Tammy Wilsford
With Cancer, It's Either Laugh or Cry
August 28, 2016 – Melissa (Missy) Grace
Ray's Oncology Nurse: His Sunshine and Guardian Angel
August 20, 2016 – Raymond Dziolowski
Our Pediatric Oncology Superhero
August 21, 2016 – Glen Jusczyk on behalf of Malia Jusczyk
Our Extraordinary Home Link to the Oncologist
August 14, 2016 – Susan B. Whigham
Abby's Oncology Nurse: A Gift of Love to Our Family
August 14, 2016 – Steven Oliver
More Than Just a Cancer Nurse: Mel's Angel on Earth
August 08, 2016 – Aggie Higginbotham
A Grateful Daughter: How One Oncology Nurse Made All the Difference
August 06, 2016 – Darlene C. Terroni
Mom's Oncology Nurse: A True Lifesaver
July 31, 2016 – Cassidy Poske, daughter of Christi Poske
A Loyal Friendship Conquers Cancer's Boundaries
July 30, 2016 – Donna Clark, RN, BSN, OCN
One of the Quiet Oncology Heroes
July 24, 2016 – Lisa Barnes
My Personal Cancer Warrior
July 24, 2016 – Rosemary E. Manbachi, CRNP
A Loving and Compassionate Oncology Nurse
July 18, 2016 – Revathi Suppiah, MD
Behind the Scenes: Quietly Making Oncology Patients' Hopes a Reality
July 16, 2016 – David M. Waterhouse, MD, MPH
Holding Our Mission -- and Her Oncology Patients -- in Her Heart
July 10, 2016 – Melissa Andres, BSN, RN, OCN
On the Frontlines, Advocating for Every Child With Cancer
July 04, 2016 – Daniel W. Lee, MD
My Oncology Nurse: A Shining Star of Hope
July 03, 2016 – Jessie M. Turner
Currently Viewing
An Oncology Nurse's Perseverance to Dig Deeper
July 02, 2016 – Catherine Hugues
My Oncology Nurse and Lifesaver
June 26, 2016 – Mallory Turchi
A Healer for the Heart and Soul Throughout My Cancer Journey
June 12, 2016 – Jessica Bembry, RN, BSN, OCN and Sissy Smith
An Oncology Nurse With a Million Dollar Smile and Priceless Heart
June 11, 2016 – Brandi Brethour
Making a Long-Term Commitment to Pediatric Patients: An Interview With Diana Gordon
May 29, 2016 – DIANA GORDON, RN, MSN, CPNP, CPON
A Tireless Advocate for Children With Cancer and a Beacon of Hope
May 28, 2016 – Julie Blatt, MD
Advocating for Patients With Cancer, Near and Far
May 31, 2016 – Carmi Fazio, RN, MSN, ONA
An Extraordinary Healer and So Much More
May 16, 2016 – Lisa Chapman
The Joy of Caring: An Interview With Extraordinary Healer Winner Lynne Malestic
May 22, 2016 – Lynne Malestic, RN
Blending the Art and Skill of Oncology Nursing With Boundless Compassion
May 21, 2016 – Cera Stanford, BSN, RN, PHN, NE-BC, HACP

An Oncology Nurse's Perseverance to Dig Deeper

An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring Barbara Underwood, RN [Integers Cancer Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma].
BY Catherine Hugues
PUBLISHED July 02, 2016
Barbara Underwood, RN and Catherine Hugues [PHOTO BY SARAH JEAN HUDIBURG]
Barbara Underwood, RN and Catherine Hugues [PHOTO BY SARAH JEAN HUDIBURG]
AS A SURVIVOR of a rare cancer that has recurred twice, I would say that I have spent an unusual amount of time in Barbara Underwood’s care. I first met her when I was referred to Dr. Romeo Mandanas in October 2006. I was still recovering from the treatment I had received for germ cell teratoma of the mediastinum while on active duty with the US Air Force in Germany. My husband and I were wary of trying to navigate the ins and outs of coordinating care through our military health care plan, and were afraid it would end in my inability to see whomever I needed to see in a timely manner. Barbara’s willingness to work directly with our case manager and to spend the time needed to get all the referrals through was a true godsend.

When the cancer recurred in June 2007, Barbara was instrumental in helping my husband and I to make the arrangements to get in to see Dr. Lawrence Einhorn at Indiana University. Getting an appointment with a famous cancer specialist isn’t easy, but we succeeded with Barbara’s help. Following a full thoracotomy, I had a lot of complications with the recovery, including spending time in the hospital for pericarditis.

All throughout this time, Barbara always kept tabs on the problems I was having, and I knew that I could call her with any symptom (however gross) or any problem and she would get back to me in record time with a solution. She coordinated sending medical records and making sure that reports from other specialists made it into my records. This would be important when the time came for my Veterans Administration disability claim. You could say that this is part of her assigned duties, but I’m pretty sure that not many nurses would take the time to stand by the copier for hours and make sure that everything I needed was properly copied and legible.

When I got the heartbreaking news in March 2008 that the cancer had recurred a second time, Barbara was there, helping to coordinate a transesophageal biopsy with the only physician in Oklahoma who did them before that doctor went on vacation. The aftermath of the aggressive treatment I received left me in remission, but with a lot of other medical problems. Every time I was in to see Dr. Mandanas, Barbara took the time to chat with me, listening to what had been happening with me health-wise, but also about other things that had nothing to do with cancer. I don’t know how, but she remembers what you tell her, and can always make you feel like you’re a person first, not just a big bloated bag of cancer cells.

As we moved forward in my recovery, it became apparent that the recurring illnesses I was having were not because of allergies. I had been complaining to her that I had been repeatedly sick and that I had lived in Oklahoma long enough to know I didn’t have allergies before. At her insistence, Dr. Mandanas ordered some blood tests to see whether my immunoglobulins were low. While overall the test revealed a slightly lower level, initially it didn’t seem as if that was the problem.

After another several months of being on antibiotics every other month, I had pretty much had enough. It was a phone call between Barbara and me that instigated a deeper investigation, which revealed an immunoglobulin G4 deficiency as a result of my treatment. I know I wasn’t very nice on the phone that day. Once again sick with fever and the pain of a raging sinus infection, my attitude was, “I’m sick again. I hope you people are happy.” Barbara calmly asked me to come in for a blood draw and phoned in yet another prescription for antibiotics.

Those blood tests finally got to the root of why I had so many illnesses. If Barbara hadn’t taken the initiative to look deeper into the problems I was having, I’m sure I would not have overcome the respiratory distress and recurring infections that were making me wonder why I had beaten cancer three times to live like this. I was sure I would end up on an oxygen tank with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I now receive an immunoglobulin infusion once every three months and have gone as long as 18 months without being on antibiotics.

Now, nine years later, I still look forward to seeing Barbara at my quarterly appointment. Of course, since I’m not really “sick,” my visits are mostly catching up on trips and Broadway shows with Barbara, having Dr. Mandanas tell me the same things he did the last time, and then off to my infusion. Barbara still keeps tabs on what is going on with any medical problems I’m having and makes sure that Dr. Mandanas knows when he is needed to weigh in on something due to my immune system deficiency. My cancer story started in 2005. The actions and caring of Barbara Underwood are one of the primary reasons I’m still here to tell that story.
Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.

Related Articles

1
×

Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!
×

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In