Treating the Whole Patient Rather Than Just Cancer Issues

Linda McMillan

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

A patient details the compassionate support that she received from an oncology nurse while receiving back-to-back treatments for cancer.

During 2019 and 2020, I had to undergo two back-to-back treatments for two unrelated types of cancer. As my medical oncologist nurse, Christa Spinelli, B.S.N., RN, supported me every step of the way during this treatment. She always was pleasant, compassionate and attentive to my every need.

She went out of her way to be sure that I had all the information and help I needed during chemotherapy and tirelessly answered every question patiently and thoroughly, even when I asked her the same thing more than once. She listened empathetically and encouraged me in ways I felt were beyond what she was required to do in her role as a nurse, such as discussing my concerns about the impact of a family member's mental health issues on my recovery and coping with the employment difficulties I was experiencing as a result of my cancer and its treatment. When I felt my concerns must be too burdensome to discuss with her, she reassured me they were not. She treated the whole individual and not just the cancer issues.

Now that I am in aftercare, she continues to respond promptly and empathetically to my questions and concerns about additional issues that have arisen with regard to my healthcare.She is a model to be emulated. I hope you will honor her as an extraordinarily oncology nurse, as this recognition would be well-deserved.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Linda McMillan for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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