A Parent's Journey With an Extraordinary Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healers Vol. 9, Volume 9, Issue 1

An Extraordinary Healers essay honoring Diane Moore, RN [Children's Medical Center in Dallas, Texas]

Janet Smith (left) with Diane Moore, RN - PHOTO BY JARED REY

My daughter, Olivia Joan Smith, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on October 24, 2012. She fought valiantly and danced her way into heaven on September 24, 2013, at the age of 11.

During her 11 months of treatment, Olivia spent nearly 130 days and nights in the hospital. She was cared for by so many incredible nurses. However, Diane Moore is the epitome of a gifted oncology nurse. Her knowledge, experience, concern and undeniable compassion are unmatched.

When Olivia was admitted to the hospital, she would always request Diane as her nurse first. Olivia trusted her more than anyone else to access her port. Diane’s way of caring for Olivia was special. No request was unnoticed or ignored. Diane listened to Olivia’s needs, concerns and wishes, and when possible, acted on them as efficiently as possible.

Each morning, Diane would come into Olivia’s room, ready to do whatever it took to take care of Olivia and make her day go as well as possible. When Olivia needed to freshen up with wipes, which she detested, Diane and she would come up with a plan to make it as easy on Olivia as possible. Diane would strive to make everything as efficient as she could.

I remember getting ready to bring Olivia home after a 5-week stay in the hospital. Olivia was concerned about getting up the stairs to get to her bedroom. She had come home with a walker, as her physical ability had greatly deteriorated. Diane perceived her concern and reassured her that it would be alright. She was so sweet, compassionate and encouraging, and yet, did not sugar-coat her answer to suggest to Olivia that it would be easy.

Diane was a perfect balance between the professional and the personal. She always had a positive attitude when she came into Olivia’s hospital room. She knew how to adjust her demeanor to how Olivia was feeling. If Olivia was feeling more ill that day, Diane would do whatever medical procedure needed to be done, and then leave Olivia alone. When Olivia was feeling more conversational, Diane took the time to sit and chat. Diane never let it show if she was having a hard day.

Diane frequently could be seen sitting at her desk long past the time her shift ended. She would not leave any chart incomplete or any patient in need of something before she left for the day.

(As a side note, Diane wore purple tennis shoes. Olivia got her own purple tennis shoes once she started physical therapy.)

I know Diane was deeply affected by the loss of Olivia. I have since returned to visit Children’s Medical Center and the wonderful people we met during Olivia’s treatment. Diane was working the day I visited. She gave me a long hug and we cried together, chatting about how special Olivia was.

Diane’s calling is to be an oncology nurse and always will be. Those patients that are fortunate to have her as a nurse are very blessed. As a parent, I was blessed to have her care for my Olivia. Now we share our memories of her.

Although our cancer journey did not end the way we would have hoped, I am so grateful for those we met who took care of Olivia. We are looking for a purpose in all of this, knowing our journey will be long and difficult. We miss Olivia so much, but know she will always be remembered by Diane and many others at Children’s