Two Angels of Oncology

I hope every patient and their family can feel the caring that two angels standing by a shoulder can bring.

By: Terry Dalton

I would like to nominate two angels for this wonderful award. Two, because they came to us in a pair actually a million times over. What I can say about one, I can justly say about the other. They are co-workers in the same facility, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute.

Diane Cope and Sandy Leahy are more than nurses. Diane and Sandy are top nurses in the field of oncology. You see, they were co-workers of my daughter, Brandi Riber, who also was an RN at Florida Cancer Specialists. When Brandi became a nurse, the three of them bonded immediately.

When Brandi received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2010 and a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in 2014, they became three peas in a pod. Never once did Brandi enter the office to be examined or hear any news without one (or both) of them standing behind her, hands on her shoulders to brace and support her spirit, heart and mind. Brandi fought cancer for 12 years while working as a nurse and also being a patient at Florida Cancer Specialists.

Brandi slipped from our grasp on December 27, 2021. Brandi was a 2021 CURE® Metastatic Breast Cancer Heroes™ award winner — having the disease herself, she could speak from experience. She was so thrilled to receive the special honor because it meant that her nursing life had a purpose. That is my hope for Diane and Sandy, that they receive a similar honor.

During the last weeks of Brandi’s illness, they remained strong by her side, offering their expertise not only to Brandi but also to me, her mother, as I cared for her.

Diane and Sandy offered so much love and caring, along with heartfelt tears, because of their strong work ethics and bonding. They formed an invisible circle around my child. Even though Brandi was 47 years old, both of them saw her as their own, and as a parent that could not have comforted me more.

The care and love that they gave to Brandi remain the same as they spread across the large practice room helping people whose lives dangle in a precarious position. I hope every patient and their family can feel the caring that two angels standing by a shoulder can bring.

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