MY HEART POUNDED as I awaited the news. I could hardly believe that my cancer had returned for a fourth time and this time was in my lungs.
MY HEART POUNDED as I awaited the news. I could hardly believe that my cancer had returned for a fourth time and this time was in my lungs. After multiple surgeries, various side effects and not being able to make any previous clinical trials, the news was devastating. I was now classified as having stage 4 melanoma and the prognosis was not good at all.
HOWEVER, FOR THE FIRST TIME, I finally qualified for a research trial. It would require many trips to my cancer center, and I would be assigned a research nurse that I was to be in close contact with at all times. That is where my calm in the storm comes into play.
Lauren Simpson, RN, melanoma and skin cancer research nurse, greeted me with a warm smile and patiently went over the manypages of details outlining the research study. She brought order to the seeming chaos and many details that seemed out of control. She was very positive and encouraging, and I was amazed at her wisdomand compassion well beyond her young age. After several appointments, I knew I had come upon a priceless treasure. She always entered the room with a beaming smile that could brighten even the darkest and most difficult days. You could sense the genuine compassion in her voice and her actions. She remembered almost every detail of my multiple side effects and symptoms and was on top of it with a plan every time. Again, she was able to calm the storm of side effects by coming up with yet another plan.
No matter how many times my husband or I had to call during the week, she greeted us with friendliness and warmth, and no question remained unanswered. If she did not know the answer right off, she immediately went to work to find it. I was in utter amazement of how tightly she worked with my oncologist and kept her up to speed on everything that was going on with me and worked to get me feeling better as soon as possible.
I had multiple side effects and many trips to the emergency room. Each time, she made me feel as if I were her very own family member and checked to see the progress I was making. She also went to find something to help me when expected progress was not taking place. She never seemed irritated or impatient, even with my multiple and seemingly never-ending questions. She was always very calming and reassuring. Some days, I even talked to her multiple times and she always received me with genuine friendliness and a listening ear. I always felt like I was talking to a dear friend, and for that alone she deserves a million accolades!
Even though she dealt with various patients, I was amazed at how she remembered each detail of my story, side effects and treatment plan. She never seemed rushed or bothered by the storms of side effects and patients she had around her. She was personally and emotionally committed and dedicated to my well being. Lauren truly deserves recognition for her compassion, expertise and helpfulness. I have never met a nurse that was so on top of her game at such a very young age. She was always eager to help and to make me feel important and understood.
A cancer diagnosis is never easy, regardless of the stage. It truly feels like a storm that rages on and on without end. However, having caring and compassionate individuals like Lauren makes the healing process much smoother and gives the patient extra energy to fight the battle itself and not have to worry about the details.
I felt like I could focus on getting myself well and leave the details of the side effects and research in her hands. I knew she would keep me informed and would work as quickly as she could to work out problems and issues that came about in the process. I always felt like she understood me as an individual and she treated me like I was her only patient, even though she had several other patients each day.
Lauren Simpson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, deserves CURE’s 2014 Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing for helping to be the calm in my cancer storm. She exudes genuine compassion, amazing knowledge and expertise, around-the-clock helpfulness and amazing attention to detail. I will forever be grateful for Lauren for being in my life and being such an important part of my healing process. My storm is not over, but I am thankful that Lauren is a part of the calm in the storm.