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
Joy: An Oncology Nurse Who Fits Her Name
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Dealing With the Pride and Toughness of a Soldier With Cancer
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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
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June 24, 2017 – Geovanny Gomez, CNA Providence St. John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, California
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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.
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May 23, 2017 – George J.S. Kallingal, M.D., M.P.H. Major, MC, USA Staff Surgeon, Urologic Oncology, Brooke Army Medical Center
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May 20, 2017 – Jackson Pagel
Oncology Found Her
May 19, 2017 – AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA SARGENTE, RN, OCN
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May 13, 2017 – Jayne O’Malley, RN, B.S.N., OCN Lung Cancer Patient Navigator and Manager of Navigation Services, Orange Regional Medical Center
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Sharing a Special Bond With a Remarkable Oncology Nurse

An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring VICTORIA FENSTERMAKER, RN, AAS [ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE, BUFFALO, NEW YORK]
BY Blake Peterson
PUBLISHED July 23, 2017
Blake Peterson and Victoria Fenstermaker, RN, AAS
 - PHOTOS BY BRIDGET ROCHELLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Blake Peterson and Victoria Fenstermaker, RN, AAS - PHOTOS BY BRIDGET ROCHELLE PHOTOGRAPHY
A good nurse cares for the whole patient, administering medicine and caring for the patient under the direction of physicians who set a course of treatment. A great nurse not only does that, but also cares for the whole family, making sure not only that the patient is comfortable, but that each family member has his or her own needs met and feels cared for, as well. However, a truly remarkable nurse puts her duties in the intensive care unit of one of the leading cancer hospitals in the country on hold, if only for a moment, in order to come out to the waiting room to comfort the spouse of her patient who has just fainted after receiving the news that no one wants to receive. Let me explain why Victoria Fenstermaker is truly a remarkable nurse.

This past May, my father, Jeffrey Peterson, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. His diagnosis came as a surprise to everyone when he went to the emergency room in Jamestown, New York, for severe joint pain and bloodwork pointed to an acute leukemia. As soon as a room was available, he was sent directly to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, where he was started on a 24-hour chemotherapy treatment for seven straight days. The treatment was intended to set him up to be in a good position to be a recipient of a bone marrow transplant, but an infection landed him in the ICU. It was there where we first met Vicki Fenstermaker. It was Vicki who originally instructed my dad to call home before he was put into a medically induced coma so that he could rest and try to fight his infection. We didn’t know it at the time, but that quick phone call was the last time my mom would get to talk to my dad, so that phone call is now cherished.

When I first met Vicki on the floor of the ICU, she was working tirelessly and meticulously to stay on top of nearly a dozen IV solution bags of medication — the mark of a good nurse. Over the course of the next week, my whole family was camped out in the waiting room of the ICU. We became acquainted with many others who had family members in the unit, we became familiar with staring out the windows at the Buffalo skyline for hours and we became anxious whenever the waiting room phone would ring, summoning someone into the ICU. Throughout that week, we would occasionally go in to be with my dad. I was quite quiet throughout that whole week, and Vicki met me where I was.

When I would be in with my dad, she would pop in occasionally, silently mouthing the words, “Are you OK?” or “Do you need anything?” She knew how to meet each family member with exactly what we needed throughout that week. Vicki and my mom exchanged life stories, and she provided my mom with an update on a little improvement or change each day that gave my mom enough encouragement to get through the day — the sign of a great nurse.

Most people think that the characteristic that makes nurses exemplary is that they provide excellent care for their patients or they have a keen eye with which they discover something that was previously overlooked by the physicians that is detrimental in nursing their patient back to health. Although Vicki possesses these qualities, our story does not have a fairytale ending. On June 5, after my dad had spent a week in a coma and on life support in the ICU, it was time to “make some decisions.” His kidneys were beginning to shut down, he was losing circulation in his legs, a feeding tube was unsuccessful and he was retaining nearly all the fluid that was being pumped into him. On top of all that, the chemotherapy was not nearly as successful as the oncologists had hoped, and he was in no condition to receive a bone marrow transplant. When we got the news that it was time to make decisions, the weight of the situation got the better of my mom, and she passed out. Doctors, nurses and volunteers rushed out of the ICU to care for my mother momentarily as she regained consciousness. Vicki was there once again, meeting us where we were and even pep-talking my mom after she had regained consciousness — the mark of a truly remarkable nurse.

As we made the decision to withdraw care, Vicki was, once again, with us every step of the way. She attended conferences that my family had with the leukemia team, both literally and figuratively holding our hands along the way. When it came time to remove the life support machines, she did so faithfully and even beautifully, making my dad as comfortable as possible as he passed on. When he finally passed, Vicki was the one to close his eyes and declare a time of death. Not a moment after he passed, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” came on the radio that was playing. We now consider this song an anthem of my father, and whenever it plays, we are reminded that he is looking over us.

You share a special bond with the people that you meet in the ICU. My family is incredibly grateful to Victoria Fenstermaker’s service to not only my father and my family, but to every patient that she works with in the ICU at Roswell Park.
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