An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring COURTNEY SOOD, RN [INDIANA UNIVERSITY HEALTH, ZIONSVILLE, INDIANA]
Courtney Sood, RN, and Gwendolyn Brack - PHOTO BY JAMIE SANGAR
I met Courtney Sood five years ago, when I went to start yet another series of chemotherapy treatments. It was my first time at this particular clinic, and I was immediately welcomed by a smiling face, coupled with a sweet and graceful demeanor. This was my first encounter with Courtney, whom I now call my best friend.
Courtney embodies joy, empathy, compassion and competency, no matter what she is doing. She immediately makes one feel welcome and comforted. She is incredibly detailoriented, and for oncology patients, that translates into a sense of trust. She remembers the smallest details about your family, your pet, your friends and your social engagements, and follows up every time she sees you. She has an amazing emotional intelligence that enables her to put people at ease, even in the most difficult and vulnerable times.
Not only is Courtney always catering to any patient and the patient’s support system needs, she is also an extremely competent and qualified oncology nurse. If she doesn’t know an answer to someone’s question, she will find the answer readily. I have noticed that Courtney is always learning new bits of information from the doctors she encounters in her daily work — and she is excited about it! Knowing her both personally and professionally, I know that she thrives on challenging herself. Her goal in gaining this information and understanding is always patientcentered. Everything she does is with the end goal of helping her patients, whether it is with managing side effects or understanding their treatment options more comprehensively. She is a stellar advocate for her patients. If she feels that a doctor is not listening to the patient, or giving them enough time and attention, she will intervene.
Courtney goes above and beyond for those in her life. She supports her patients on her own time, outside of work. For example, I have seen her pick up prescriptions for patients and drop them off at the nursing home. I’ve been to Relay for Life events with her to walk with the family of one of her patients. She goes to everything from fundraisers to funerals.
We became friends very quickly since I was drawn to her endless generosity and amazingly kind spirit. We often joke that it was divine intervention that brought us together; if I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer, we probably wouldn’t have come into each other’s lives. I feel beyond blessed that I get to call her my nurse and my friend, and I know I’m not alone. She makes everyone feel as if they are a friend, not just a patient. She exemplifies what it means to be an extraordinary healer.
Courtney leaves a lasting impact on those she touches. Unfortunately, in this field, death is more commonplace than we’d like it to be, but I’ve witnessed the impression Courtney has left long after patients have passed away. Parents, siblings and friends often visit the clinic just to see Courtney and update her on their lives. They are drawn to her and the comfort she exudes. She becomes an integral part of the cancer journey, not only for patients, but for their loved ones.
Courtney makes the ugly and terrifying cruelty of cancer into something slightly less daunting, and this is truly extraordinary. My wish is that she will someday understand the impact she has had on all of us, and how incredibly important she has been in each of our stories.