In the Midst of Cancer Uncertainty, Pausing to Regroup

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

An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring JUDY FISHER, OCN [LAKES REGION GENERAL HOSPITAL IN LACONIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE]

Patrick Tierney with Judy Fisher, OCN - PHOTO BY MAUNDY MITCHELL

I first met Judy in an outrage. My diagnosis with multiple myeloma and the subsequent surgery inserting titanium rods and components within my legs had been completed. My PCP and surgeon had been fabulous, but this was cancer, and waiting for a call sometime in the future was unacceptable.

I convinced my wife and sister to accompany me on a probing mission to the oncology department. And there was Judy. It was clear that she was very busy, but in short order her attention was on us. All of the concerns poured forth as she patiently absorbed the anxiety and my uneasiness.

I remember her calm and caring demeanor. I recall her reassurance that my feelings about the situation were perfectly normal. We certainly weren’t the first family unit to land in her department in fear, and her guidance took over. Before we left our unannounced visit, a timetable was established for addressing our interests with an oncologist (Dr. Catcher), and hope reserved a place in my future. Not only did Judy slow things down for our group, she became a go-to person for my initial exams, prescriptions, stem cell transplant prep, subsequent maintenance and ongoing overview of my situation.

As we now look back on and enjoy over three years of grateful survivor status, the hard work and team efforts of her department are to be applauded. Not only do they preside over a completely professional setting, but the efficient ease of simply slowing things down, doing things right and assuring the patient of a constructive path, all went a long way toward slowing the fear.

I could mention some light moments, along with her early no-nonsense approach at getting my regimen in place and her help with my panic and feeling lost. Once I met Judy, I was in the pipeline. Once I met Judy, the other staff members and hospitals began to line up. These were the most remarkable people I’ve ever known. These were the people that saved my life. These were the people who allowed me to wake up and embrace the possibilities and options available.

In closing, I need to say that self-evidence was the toughest pill I had to learn to swallow. Not only was a stop sign posted on my life path, but I got a chance to live in a world where I’d be better suited to work with and through others. The common thread of common sense was and continues to be Judy. Her work is excellent. My humble request is that Judy be recognized for her years of participating in stories like mine.