In this essay, a nurse colleague shows how extraordinary healer Deborah Austin Thompson is both an exceptional comforter and healer for patients with cancer.
I’ve known oncology nurse Deborah Austin Thompson for over 30 years. I will tell you her story in the words of a patient, Naomi Gibbons Williams:
I have known Deborah Thompson, B.S.N., RN, OCN, since Dec. 9, 2009, the day I received a diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer at the oncology clinic of the Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Georgia. Although she was not assigned as my nurse at the time, I immediately noticed how professional, kind and caring she was — so much so that, after a few months, I asked for Deborah to take care of me whenever my assigned nurse was off duty.
Deborah accepted the responsibility of caring for me without hesitation. Then, when my original nurse retired five years ago, Deborah accepted me as one of her many patients. Since then, I have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful nurse of her caliber, expertise and caring nature take care of me during chemotherapy infusions every three weeks. Deborah provides the same great care to all her patients, and I have never seen her out of sorts.
I have seen her interact with other patients, nurses and doctors with so much respect, and she always has encouraging words for patients, co-workers and others whenever needed. She has earned the respect, admiration and love of all her peers in the oncology clinic and throughout the VA hospital. I have become a better person since I have known her. On many occasions, she has encouraged me to go out on speaking engagements, informing others of the warning signs of cancer. Because of Deborah, I have learned to encourage hope in others by telling them my story.
Deborah not only gives her all to patients at the VA but also volunteers for outside cancer groups and holds several positions within her community. She has been a bright light for me and many other patients at the VA, encouraging us to keep going and not give up. Without a doubt, Deborah Thompson is worthy of recognition because of her expert patient care, professionalism, compassion, ability to solve problems and, most of all, her heartfelt concern for all patients.
Naomi’s story speaks volumes, especially the part about being inspired by Deborah to encourage hope in others — something I can vouch for. I have known Naomi for the past nine years, and she was my rock when my brother was battling cancer. She gave me hope and encouragement that he would make it when I thought there was no hope. Today, I celebrate nine years with him in remission. She continues to be my rock now that my son is fighting cancer. She is always happy, joyful and welcoming, living life to the fullest, because she sees life as fulfilling no matter what the odds are.
Deborah Thompson brings joy, hope and compassion to her patients. She takes the time to listen to their concerns and advocate for their care. She recognizes her patients as individuals and treats each with respect and dignity. Her patients look forward to her care at each visit. She makes them comfortable and at home.
She interacts with patients and families by educating them on post-treatment protocols, and they appreciate how much she cares. When patients go into remission, they come back to thank her for her care and support throughout the cancer journey. Family members who have lost their loved ones also return to let her know and to thank her for helping them.
Deborah Thompson is indeed an extraordinary comforter and healer.