Oncology Nurses Offer Steadfast Love and Support in the Face of Cancer

December 19, 2020
Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 14, Volume 14,

A caregiver recognizes the oncology nurse that helped her husband through 9 years of treatment for cancer.

I would like to recognize Mary Schueller, M.S.N., RN-BC, AOCNS, CHPN, as an extraordinary healer.

My husband, Harry Metscher, was diagnosed with metastatic malignant melanoma in November 1989. He went through two sessions of experimental treatment in the intensive care unit at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, each two weeks long. Doctors removed a tumor from his chest and grew cancer-fighting cells in an incubator. These cells were given back to him intravenously during these two-week sessions in March and April of 1990. He then came back to our home city, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to Hospital Sisters Health System St. Nicholas Hospital, and this is where we met Mary Schueller.

The first day, she was not only professional and excellent at what she did, but was immediately very friendly. In fact, that same day, she brought pictures into our room of a trip she had just returned from. She was the best and most compassionate nurse that we worked with in all of Harry's medical appointments or hospital stays. Over nine years, Mary was Harry’s oncology nurse through 74 five-day sessions of inpatient chemotherapy treatments. She trained all of his nurses to administer his chemo and care for him, even through a colon cancer surgery.

To mark the completion of Harry’s 50th cycle of chemotherapy, Mary and her co-workers arranged a special party at a local restaurant to mark the occasion. A photographer from the local newspaper came to document the event so that it could be shared with others. Later, Harry was hospitalized for severe headaches several times at St. Luke's and then sent to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, but to no avail — the headaches lasted for four-and-a-half months. Meanwhile, he returned to St. Nicholas whenever he needed total parenteral nutrition and lipids. While there, Harry remained in severe pain and had to be flat in bed, with strong meds, although they did not stop his suffering.

Then, Mary suggested that Harry see an oncologist, Dr. Marshall Matthews, who was new in Sheboygan. His patients were treated at St. Nicholas, and Mary told us that Dr. Matthews was super-intelligent. Hers was the best advice we were ever given, because after seeing Dr. Matthews, Harry was back to work and golfing and enjoying life.

Unfortunately, in 1999, Harry was diagnosed with leukemia and put on hospice care at home. On the fourth day, the hospice nurse who came to our home told me that Harry would only live another 24 hours. Mary was here immediately after work to oversee things and do last-stage procedures that the hospice nurse did not complete. She did not come as a paid nurse, but as a friend, staying with me until 11:30 that evening and then returning in the morning until he passed. Now, no matter when the hospital nurses who remember Harry go out to dinner, I get invited by Mary, and she goes out of her way to stop to pick me up. She is a very wonderful friend who gave me medical advice about a knee replacement I was scheduled to have in January 2020.

Mary has been at St. Nicholas for 41 years and travels to three other hospitals to train their nurses. She is also involved in many cancer organizations. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of recognition as an extraordinary healer.

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