I wish all patients had a nurse like Alyssa Johnson, M.S.N., RN.
Having a care team that makes you feel like you’re their only patient doesn’t come around too often. That’s how I feel, though — thought about, taken care of, involved. At no point in the early stages of my cancer journey did I ever expect to be excited to see my team, but after surgery and biopsies, I found that I truly was happy to see Alyssa Johnson, M.S.N., RN.
For my first follow-up visit after surgery, Alyssa joined my family, my oncologist and me to teach us about my treatment plan. She explained every medication and the side effects and what to expect. Her fantastic bedside manner really took our emotions into account. I cope with things using humor, and Alyssa picked up on that and inserted lighthearted jokes. When we left for the day, my family and I all felt a huge relief and were extremely optimistic about my future.
Going through the motions of chemotherapy can be dreadful and exhausting both physically and mentally. Somehow Alyssa made me excited to get to treatments. Although treatments were never desired, the idea of having her show up in the chemo suite was enough to encourage me to keep my head up each time someone approached my suite in the hallway hoping it would be her.
Alyssa always spent time in the suite chatting about treatments, insurance, dogs, social media and babies. She was the first person to congratulate me on getting married and always encouraged me whenfeeling down about whether I could have children after I finished treatment. She would call me betweentreatments to make sure I was doing well; she didn’t just wait for me to have an issue and call. At every step of my journey, I’ve felt an overwhelming amount of safety and love from someone I’d never known before.
About seven treatments in, Alyssa left for maternity leave. Even though I was extremely sad to have thatloss during the scariest times of my life, I sent her a text congratulating her on her newborn and she texted back! To this day, as I continue treatments and she remains on leave, she still checks in on me. She encourages me to keep fighting.
Unfortunately, I will be leaving University of Chicago Medicine to go to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for a trial treatment, but the worst part about it isn’t the fact that my current treatments aren’t working or worrying about traveling across the country; the worst part is not being able to bring Alyssa with me.
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