I Thought My Oncology Nurse Was an Angel
An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring BROOKE DAVIS, RN [ONCOLOGY SPECIALISTS OF CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA]
PUBLISHED: AUGUST 12, 2017
Connie J. Trotter and Brooke Davis, RN - PHOTOS BY CAROLYN ANN RYAN
No one ever wants to hear the word cancer in the same sentence with their name. The diagnosis is scary enough, and then the treatment begins with its own horrific unknowns! I was one of the “fortunate” patients with colorectal cancer who was diagnosed at my first colonoscopy at age 50. After my gastroenterologist sent me to a surgeon who removed most of the cancer, I was referred to a wonderful place of treatment in Charlotte. At stage 3, I had two out of 35 lymph nodes that were tainted from the cancer. Chemotherapy was recommended.
Oncology Specialists of Charlotte is truly a place of caring, and individual attention is given with every trip. My oncology doctor, Dr. Justin Favaro (who continues to be a comfort, giving the most excellent care), had advised the 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) chemo. Without going into all of the chemical aspects of the 5-FU infusions, it is essentially received via IV every two weeks for about three to four hours, followed by infusions from a portable pump for 48 hours. Brooke helped me arm myself with my “buddy pack,” giving it more of a positive spin. This was a fanny pack with the meds carried around my waist, attached to the tube that ran into my port. I felt the sickest with the fanny pack, a few days after the treatments.
Although three meds were given for nausea, I found that I had a hypersensitive reaction to the 5-FU regimen, resulting in severe stomach and intestinal issues. During my treatments, it was Brooke who gave the gentlest attention with needle pokes and genuine concern throughout my chemo visits. There were several times that Brooke noticed my wincing face and nervously rocking legs and came over to see if I needed anything to ease the nausea. During the last few treatments, I could barely remember the visits, as the nausea had me feeling so poorly. I do remember Brooke’s face and her touch on my arm as she brought me crackers and a drink to sip. At that point, I was convinced that she was indeed an angel of mercy here on earth!
I could also see Brooke taking time to comfort others, including family members, with just a touch or a few moments of checking in with the patient to see how they were feeling. Her soft-spoken manner relaxes her patients, and they know that she will do whatever she can to ease the illness. I could see them smile as she gently spoke to them, focusing on their meds, their faces and any discomforts.
Today, I am in my third year as a colorectal cancer survivor, and I still see Brooke when I visit for my six-month follow-up visits. Even now, Brooke takes the time to walk over toward the lab when she sees me to check on how I am doing. I have never met anyone as sweet and caring as Brooke. She makes me feel special, like one of her family. She always asks how I am doing, and remembers my husband, as well. I have never dreaded my visits, knowing that “my friends” are there to help me. My friend, my angel, sent to help me during this horrible time in my life. My journey continues, but I will never forget Brooke.
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