This essay was written by Maria Campos nominating Mary Kernan, RN, OCN, of Smilow Cancer Center At Yale New Haven Health, New Haven, Connecticut, for CURE®'s Extraordinary Healer® Award.
My name is Maria Campos. I am from Brazil. I came to the United States to support my sister, who lost her husband.
My nightmare started in April 2018, when I woke up with my face swollen and my sister took me to Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut. After being there all day, I heard the worst news of my life: I had stage 4 cancer in my mouth. I was sent to Yale New Haven Hospital, and six weeks later, I had surgery. I lost 70 percent of my tongue and had my lymph nodes removed.
I was completely lost, and my sister was, too. We didn’t have any idea about what it means to live with cancer and how bad it could be — especially when living in a different country, where I didn’t know anyone or speak the language.
My sister and I started a big and strange journey with a lot of hope that I would be back home soon. She left her job, and we didn’t know what to do until some angels came into our lives just to help. I have the best oncology team to take care of me. Suddenly, we had help from every place in the hospital. We were so positive until I started chemo and radiation, and I became so sick that I thought I couldn’t survive. It was not easy to come to the hospital almost every day and be there many hours.
My salvation was that we had wonderful oncology nurses to help me, especially Mary Kernan, RN. She is more wonderful than words can say. She is an angel … an extraordinary nurse. Every day that I came to the hospital, she made sure I had the best medicine that could help me with my side effects. She provided many resources for me. She called the team many times to make sure that I had everything I needed to feel better and cover all my necessities. Mary provided me medical, emotional and psychological support. She is kind, sweet, very careful and very professional, with a lot of knowledge.
I don’t know what is going to happen to me because the cancer spread, but one thing I am sure of is that I have an extraordinary nurse on my side — or better, I have the best nurse, an angel, to help me.