Recognizing an Oncology Nurse Who Has Been a Guardian Angel And Co-Pilot During a Patient’s Unexpected Cancer Journey

Extraordinary Healer®, CURE® Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 16, Volume 16,

Every year, she helps coordinate fundraising for other lung cancer groups and research efforts. She is totally committed to the lung cancer community and her patients.

It gives me immense pleasure to nominate Stephanie Kaiser, M.S.N., CRNP, AOCNP, of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Hillman Cancer Center for the Extraordinary Healer Award®.

On Sept. 16, 2016, my femur snapped and shortly thereafter I learned that I had stage 4 ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. I arrived at Hillman Cancer Center a day after my femur broke, and Stephanie has been a guiding hand in my journey for more than five years — five years that I did not think were possible at the time of diagnosis.

Stephanie has a rare talent in that not only is she a very knowledgeable and skilled practitioner but her kindness and genuine care for her patients are remarkable. When I first received my diagnosis, my husband and I had many questions. Stephanie remained with us after our oncologist moved on to the next patient (and she still does!), and often we would think of questions after my appointments. Stephanie is always available to answer our questions, whether in person, via email or via a phone call. She has never made us feel like we were inconveniencing or peppering her with too many questions — and, likely, we were doing both.

As I faced bumps in the road with brain tumors and progression, Stephanie was always reassuring about the treatment paths that were available to me. Not only had our oncologist done his research, but it was clear she had as well when she could have just relied on his expertise. When we had issues with insurance coverage, it was Stephanie who spent hours assisting us in our appeal process, including participating in a phone appeal with our insurer. When we decided for my 50th birthday to raise $50,000 to fund lung cancer research, Stephanie jumped at the opportunity to assist us. Recently, at my five-year “cancerversary” Stephanie stood by our side as we dedicated a plaque in the research wing after far exceeding our original fundraising goal. Every year, she helps coordinate fundraising for other lung cancer groups and research efforts. She is totally committed to the lung cancer community and her patients.

Having had countless appointments, meetings and phone calls with Stephanie over these past five years, I can say without hesitation that she has been my guardian angel and co-pilot in this most unexpected journey. Her work has gone beyond the cancer realm, including assisting with other day-to-day medical referrals when we moved from a small town to Pittsburgh, and I needed to find new care providers outside of oncology. She has helped me put together a formidable team that includes a great general practitioner, wonderful gynecologist and a great orthopedist. She also referred me to The Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program at Hillman to help manage my cancer as well as treatment side effects.

The term healer has many definitions, but to me it is someone who helps repair you and assists in providing comfort. This is why my husband and I nominate Stephanie Kaiser for this most prestigious and deserved award.

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