I have been in and out of chemotherapy and radiation for the past seven years, and my nurse Teri has always been by my side, making things a little less scary and a whole lot easier.
HAVING THE DIAGNOSIS of cancer is unexplainable, and until you’ve been told those words, you could never imagine. Even though I’m extremely grateful for every day I wake up, living with cancer is still difficult. I have been in and out of chemotherapy and radiation for the past seven years, and my nurse Teri has always been by my side, making things a little less scary and a whole lot easier.
TERI TASLER, RN, has been my nurse for the past seven years. During those seven years, she has stayed late, arrived early, held my hand, gave me hugs, provided support, given words of encouragement and made thousands of phone calls and faxes, and probably just as many emails, all for me. In addition, she has demonstrated exceptional nursing skills. I have no idea how many patients she has, but I know it’s a lot. I also know I’m not the only one; however, she always makes me feel that I’m the only one.
I was in treatment, receiving three different chemotherapy drugs and struggling with the side effects: nausea, fatigue, low blood counts and low platelets. My family had planned a trip to San Francisco for a couple of weeks. My family didn’t think I would be able to go, but with Teri’s help, I was on the plane with the rest of them.
PHOTO BY ALEX MANESS
Teri Tasler, RN, OCN, CN-4
Teri made calls and sent emails and faxes for days trying to make arrangements for me. At the time, I had to get blood transfusions every couple of weeks. Teri made contact with a physician in San Francisco who agreed to see me while I was there and check my blood counts and stay in touch with my doctor here in North Carolina.
Before I left, I had an appointment with an oncologist for blood work and a follow-up once a week while I was in California. During my vacation, I ended up with a low platelet count and required an infusion of platelets. It was at night, but I was able to call Teri and she talked with the physician regarding my diagnosis of cancer and history of low platelets and low blood, which made things go much easier. She also called me the next day to check on me. The next week, when I had blood work drawn, she made sure she got the results from California and forwarded them to my doctor here in North Carolina. I was able to enjoy the trip knowing Teri would be right there on the phone, making sure I was taken care of.
As an artist, one of my dreams has always been to go to the Louvre Museum. My family planned a trip to make that happen. Even though I wasn’t currently in treatment, I was still having frequent blood work and dealing with side effects from the latest chemo and radiation.
Teri worked with the physicians and made sure I had plenty of fluids and that all my counts and levels were up to par before taking the trip. Two weeks before the trip, during a follow-up scan after radiation, the physicians discovered a blood clot in my inferior vena cava. I was put on injections twice daily for the clot.
On the way home from the scan, I called Teri and told her about the clot and my hesitation about the injections. Teri’s words were: “Go to the pharmacy, pick up the syringes and come to my office. I’ll stay here until you get here.” Now that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was already after 5 p.m., and I don’t know too many nurses that will tell you they will wait on you as long as it takes for you to get there. I finally arrived at her office about an hour or so later. Teri sat down with me, talked about the shots and showed me how to give myself the injection. She made me feel as though I was her only concern and she had all the time in the world for me.
I went on the trip and had a great time, all the while knowing that if I had any questions or concerns, I could always call Teri and she would have the answer.
I’ve called her in the middle of the day and complained of pain or an unfamiliar symptom and she has gotten me in to see the doctor that same day, telling me, “Come on over, and we’ll get you in to see the doc.”
Waiting on the results of a scan can be almost torturous at times. When I have scans, I never have to wait very long to find out the results. Teri calls me the same day as soon as the results are in and goes over the scan, answering any questions and easing any concerns.
Just recently, I emailed Teri on a Wednesday afternoon, complaining of pain and telling her that I needed my PCN exchanged. A couple hours later, I had an appointment scheduled for the next morning.
Teri also started a support group for gynecological cancers and attends those meetings monthly, providing support, education and friendship.
Teri is extremely attentive and observant and can tell by my voice on the phone if I’m feeling well or not.
Teri’s nursing skills are exceptional, and she goes above and beyond every day. There are no words that can explain the care and support she gives. Her kindness and love show through her dedication and work every day. While not asking or expecting anything in return, she always gives 100 percent, is always there with a smile, hug, words of encouragement or anything else her patients need. While some of the things she does can seem insignificant, it’s the little things she does, day in and day out, that make her stand out above the rest and make me proud to call her “my nurse.”