An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring MARJORIE CASTO THEILIG, RN-BC, B.S.N. [MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER AT COOPER, VOORHEES TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY]
Kelley Kramer and Marjorie Casto Theilig, RN-BC, B.S.N. - PHOTOS BY KRISTA PATTON
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer two months before I found out I was pregnant. I am an only child. This would have been her only grandchild. The doctor gave her nine months to live. She made it to nine-and-a-half months. If you’re doing the math, that means she never had the chance to meet her grandchild, but because of Marjorie (Margie) Casto Theilig, my mom was given a few other precious gifts: joy through pain, laughter while facing certain death and hope while most others would feel hopeless. Mom went into her first chemo treatment fingers crossed and hopes low: “This isn’t going to work, and I’m going to HATE it.” She left smiling — because of the loving work of dear Margie. I’m not sure what she did that first day they met, but it worked. And Mom went back for each round requesting “her” nurse, Margie.
Margie rejoiced with our family when we found out I was expecting, and kept Mom’s spirits high as we continued to receive bad news about her condition. I am absolutely convinced that Mom kept up her fight for as long as she did because of Margie. What I didn’t know at the time was that Margie’s mom was also dying. How could someone so cheerful and wonderful on the outside be facing the same immense pain I was experiencing on the inside? You’d never have known it.
Perhaps this award should go to a nurse whose patient survived; perhaps there’s a phenomenal survival story out there, but ours is not. Ours is a story about a nurse who gave hope and joy to a family at a time when hope and joy were the last two words to describe our situation. Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t healed physically, but her soul was. Mom kept up her fight as long as she could, and we were able to take our time and say our goodbyes. She was able to hear her granddaughter’s heart beating on an ultrasound … and for that I am forever grateful. Margie deserves this award because she goes above and beyond for her patients, and I hope she receives it as another way I can honor my mother. I know she would be writing this if she were here.