Dispelling the Cloud of Cancer
October 01, 2017 – James G. Coe, Ph.D.
An Inspired Healer, Leader and Guide
September 30, 2017 – D.S.
Going the Extra Mile for Patients With Cancer
September 24, 2017 – Elaine Suva-Bongiovi
My Oncology Nurse, the Sunshine in My Life
September 23, 2017 – Arlene McGrotty
Learning a New Level of Gratitude as a Patient With Cancer
September 17, 2017 – Emerald Cromwell
More Than Just a Patient With Cancer
September 16, 2017 – Steve Messiter
An Extraordinary Nurse Gave My Husband an 11-Year Lifeline
September 03, 2017 – Mona Amundson
Come With Me on My Cancer Journey With Trish
September 02, 2017 – Stuart Kremer, D.O.
My Oncology Nurse Gave Me a Birthday to Remember
August 26, 2017 – Lydia Conroy
My Oncology Nurse Is a Soul Healer
August 28, 2017 – Kelley Kramer
A Saving Grace in Cancer Care
August 20, 2017 – Julie Cox
The Heart, Soul and Laughter of Healing
August 19, 2017 – Bobbie Chew Bigby
The Oncology Nurse Who Goes There
August 13, 2017 – Danielle Burgess
I Thought My Oncology Nurse Was an Angel
August 12, 2017 – Connie J. Trotter
Appreciating the Hardest-Working Oncology Nurse I Know
August 06, 2017 – Kevin Dimit
Restoring My Faith in Medicine — and Humanity
August 05, 2017 – Kalia Douglas-Micallef
Joy: An Oncology Nurse Who Fits Her Name
July 30, 2017 – Susan Edgington
Dealing With the Pride and Toughness of a Soldier With Cancer
July 29, 2017 – Carol Kelly
Sharing a Special Bond With a Remarkable Oncology Nurse
July 23, 2017 – Blake Peterson
Bringing Hogwarts to the Oncology Unit
July 22, 2017 – Debra Jacobs
Who Will Reduce Barriers to Cancer Care?
July 20, 2017 – Jill Vondrasek, MBA Marketing and Communications Director, Michigan State University College of Nursing
A Positive Guiding Light for Oncology Patients
July 14, 2017 – Mollie Maggied, M.H.A., B.S.N., RN, CPN, ATC Assistant Nurse Manager, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital
Oncology Nurse Is in Tune With the Patient's Spirit
July 16, 2017 – Sherry Johnson, M.S.N., CPON, NE-BC Fundamentals of Magnet® Certificate Holder Director of Nursing Excellence St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Oncology Nurse Inspires Patients, Health Care Team
July 15, 2017 – Abbey Brockman, RN, B.S.N., OCN Nurse Manager, Westwood Exam/Radiation Oncology, University of Kansas Cancer Center
Putting Our Hearts Into Cancer Care
July 08, 2017 – Eileen Dwyer, RN
An Extraordinary Oncology Nurse: I Wish We Could Clone Her
July 01, 2017 – Jeffrey M. Farma, M.D. Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
The Magic Fit of Oncology Nursing
June 25, 2017 – Fred Hardwicke, M.D. Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship Program Director, Texas Tech Medical Center — Department of Internal Medicine
My Charge Nurse, Teacher, Mentor, Co-Worker and Friend
June 24, 2017 – Geovanny Gomez, CNA Providence St. John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, California
Moving Mountains to Help Patients - and Staff
June 18, 2017 – Marci Dahl Office Manager, HMS Oncology
A Tireless Patient Advocate
June 16, 2017 – Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Extraordinary Healer of the Soul and Body
June 08, 2017 – Gwendolyn Brack
Oncology Nursing Is Not Just a Job, It's a Calling
June 02, 2017 – Ellijah Legaspi
A Lifetime of Impact for Patients With Cancer
May 26, 2017 – Andy Seibert
Caring for Patients Always, Always, Always with a Smile
May 26, 2017 – Jennifer Littke
A Life Devoted to Patients With Cancer
May 26, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH JANET SCHADEE, M.S.N.
The Front Line of Urologic Cancer
May 23, 2017 – George J.S. Kallingal, M.D., M.P.H. Major, MC, USA Staff Surgeon, Urologic Oncology, Brooke Army Medical Center
When Children Are Her Job
May 21, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA KOBS, RN
The Hero I Needed During Cancer
May 20, 2017 – Jackson Pagel
Oncology Found Her
May 19, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA SARGENTE, RN, OCN
Helping Patients Fight Cancer With All Her Heart and Soul
May 13, 2017 – Jayne O’Malley, RN, B.S.N., OCN Lung Cancer Patient Navigator and Manager of Navigation Services, Orange Regional Medical Center
Dispelling the Cloud of Cancer
October 01, 2017 – James G. Coe, Ph.D.
An Inspired Healer, Leader and Guide
September 30, 2017 – D.S.
Going the Extra Mile for Patients With Cancer
September 24, 2017 – Elaine Suva-Bongiovi
My Oncology Nurse, the Sunshine in My Life
September 23, 2017 – Arlene McGrotty
Learning a New Level of Gratitude as a Patient With Cancer
September 17, 2017 – Emerald Cromwell
More Than Just a Patient With Cancer
September 16, 2017 – Steve Messiter
An Extraordinary Nurse Gave My Husband an 11-Year Lifeline
September 03, 2017 – Mona Amundson
Come With Me on My Cancer Journey With Trish
September 02, 2017 – Stuart Kremer, D.O.
My Oncology Nurse Gave Me a Birthday to Remember
August 26, 2017 – Lydia Conroy
My Oncology Nurse Is a Soul Healer
August 28, 2017 – Kelley Kramer
A Saving Grace in Cancer Care
August 20, 2017 – Julie Cox
The Heart, Soul and Laughter of Healing
August 19, 2017 – Bobbie Chew Bigby
The Oncology Nurse Who Goes There
August 13, 2017 – Danielle Burgess
I Thought My Oncology Nurse Was an Angel
August 12, 2017 – Connie J. Trotter
Appreciating the Hardest-Working Oncology Nurse I Know
August 06, 2017 – Kevin Dimit
Restoring My Faith in Medicine — and Humanity
August 05, 2017 – Kalia Douglas-Micallef
Currently Viewing
Joy: An Oncology Nurse Who Fits Her Name
July 30, 2017 – Susan Edgington
Sharing a Special Bond With a Remarkable Oncology Nurse
July 23, 2017 – Blake Peterson
Bringing Hogwarts to the Oncology Unit
July 22, 2017 – Debra Jacobs
Who Will Reduce Barriers to Cancer Care?
July 20, 2017 – Jill Vondrasek, MBA Marketing and Communications Director, Michigan State University College of Nursing
A Positive Guiding Light for Oncology Patients
July 14, 2017 – Mollie Maggied, M.H.A., B.S.N., RN, CPN, ATC Assistant Nurse Manager, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital
Oncology Nurse Is in Tune With the Patient's Spirit
July 16, 2017 – Sherry Johnson, M.S.N., CPON, NE-BC Fundamentals of Magnet® Certificate Holder Director of Nursing Excellence St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Oncology Nurse Inspires Patients, Health Care Team
July 15, 2017 – Abbey Brockman, RN, B.S.N., OCN Nurse Manager, Westwood Exam/Radiation Oncology, University of Kansas Cancer Center
Putting Our Hearts Into Cancer Care
July 08, 2017 – Eileen Dwyer, RN
An Extraordinary Oncology Nurse: I Wish We Could Clone Her
July 01, 2017 – Jeffrey M. Farma, M.D. Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
The Magic Fit of Oncology Nursing
June 25, 2017 – Fred Hardwicke, M.D. Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship Program Director, Texas Tech Medical Center — Department of Internal Medicine
My Charge Nurse, Teacher, Mentor, Co-Worker and Friend
June 24, 2017 – Geovanny Gomez, CNA Providence St. John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, California
Moving Mountains to Help Patients - and Staff
June 18, 2017 – Marci Dahl Office Manager, HMS Oncology
A Tireless Patient Advocate
June 16, 2017 – Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Extraordinary Healer of the Soul and Body
June 08, 2017 – Gwendolyn Brack
Oncology Nursing Is Not Just a Job, It's a Calling
June 02, 2017 – Ellijah Legaspi
A Lifetime of Impact for Patients With Cancer
May 26, 2017 – Andy Seibert
Caring for Patients Always, Always, Always with a Smile
May 26, 2017 – Jennifer Littke
A Life Devoted to Patients With Cancer
May 26, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH JANET SCHADEE, M.S.N.
The Front Line of Urologic Cancer
May 23, 2017 – George J.S. Kallingal, M.D., M.P.H. Major, MC, USA Staff Surgeon, Urologic Oncology, Brooke Army Medical Center
When Children Are Her Job
May 21, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA KOBS, RN
The Hero I Needed During Cancer
May 20, 2017 – Jackson Pagel
Oncology Found Her
May 19, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA SARGENTE, RN, OCN
Helping Patients Fight Cancer With All Her Heart and Soul
May 13, 2017 – Jayne O’Malley, RN, B.S.N., OCN Lung Cancer Patient Navigator and Manager of Navigation Services, Orange Regional Medical Center
Implementing Standards of Care in Radiation Dermatitis Prevention
July 02, 2017 – Mario Lacouture, M.D. Director, Oncodermatology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York

Joy: An Oncology Nurse Who Fits Her Name

An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring JOY LARIMER, RN [ESSENTIA HEALTH—ST. MARY’S HOSPITAL, DULUTH, MINNESOTA]
BY Susan Edgington
PUBLISHED July 30, 2017
Susan Edgington and Joy Larimer, RN
 - PHOTOS BY RENDULICH PHOTOGRAPHY
Susan Edgington and Joy Larimer, RN - PHOTOS BY RENDULICH PHOTOGRAPHY
Her name is Joy. And it exemplifies the passion and healing she brings to the pediatric wing of Essentia’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Joy Larimer has been a pediatric nurse for many years, and the dedication that she brings every day to her young charges makes a difference.

I am a mother of a teenage boy who had leukemia. My son Sasha was 13 when diagnosed, and 10 months later passed away from his disease. We spent almost 200 days on the pediatric floor receiving treatment and dealing with the effects of the chemo regimen that a young person receives to fight his or her cancer. As a parent, the word cancer reverberates in your brain and body, and stops the world as you know it. To say that word out loud will make you stop breathing and cause your heart and soul to shudder. “My son has cancer.”

As a family, we all began to live in the new world that revolved around the chemo, the pain, the hair loss, the many bags of blood, platelets and the ever-present bag for vomiting. We cannot forget those nightmarish days and weeks of neutropenia. We, as a family, lived that along with a child who was aware that he might die. Couple that with other children on the same floor dealing with varying effects of cancer. It is a small glimpse into the horror and, at times, the lonely moments of having a child with cancer.

When Joy starts her shift, be it a day or night, she makes sure that every child who has cancer gets blessed, regardless of whether she is taking care of them. She comes to their beds and places her hands on their bald heads. She then puts her forehead on theirs and says a silent prayer, kissing their foreheads before she leaves. She is hip to teen talk and knows all of the lingo that helps connect her to their world. If she has a spare moment, she will sit at the edge of a bed and play a video game, teasing and bantering. She knows what each child needs in order to smile for that moment. She can be firm, and somehow manages to get the medicine or treatment accomplished with the consent and cooperation of her little charges. She has an amazing sense of humor that gets the care administered with the least amount of fuss. She is Joy. All of the kids with cancer brighten up when Joy enters the room. Not only is she compassionate, lively and humorous, but her professionalism is top-notch. She keeps up with her training and will go beyond what is expected. Her knowledge and ability to communicate that knowledge are rare skills. Her dedication and devotion to these kids is her motivation to do more.

For us, for Sasha, she would tease and cajole to get that smile. When Sasha was incapable of processing his latest setback, she understood and gave him his time to reflect. When Sasha received the devastating news that his cancer had relapsed and his outlook wasn’t as positive, she packed him in a wheelchair, unhooked his IVs, and had us take him to the local beach on Lake Superior. He did not want to uncoil his fetal position as he grieved, but by forcing the issue in a quiet Joy way, we left for the park and sat out on the rocks by the water. In 15 to 20 minutes, Sasha began to share his fears and talk about death. For two hours, we sat on those rocks, in the sunshine and by the waves, processing the what-ifs. Joy knew we needed this time, and she made sure we had it. This is Joy.

Joy works well with the oncologists and is highly respected by them. She is a part of their team, and her insights are highly valued. She is a natural leader, and her peers respect and love her. I’ve watched her work small miracles with these kids. A 3-year-old, scabbed and weak from her chemo, being walked side by side on a small trike down the hall. Joy, finding the time to sit at the bedside with a parent, comforting and encouraging. And allowing tears and hugs on her ever-present shoulders. Yes, there were times when the nurses had tears in their eyes over a loss on the floor. But the celebrations of success and the returning visits of children on the mend counterbalanced them. Joy was front and center at these moments.

Our son passed away on December 10, 2013, heartbreaking and life-altering for our family. We were allowed to have hospice care on the pediatric floor, as Sasha wanted to be with the people who cared for him the past 10 months. Joy and the staff did everything possible to be supportive of Sasha during his last days, and of us as we grieved.

Our journey with cancer is over, and hopefully that chapter and book are closed. I will never forget that journey and how much we depended on Joy and the staff at St. Mary’s to care for us. The nurses on that floor, along with our devoted oncology doctors, were critical to the care not only of our son, but also of us, his family. Joy exemplifies the healing and devoted care that a nurse can bring to a child, even as he faces death.
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