The following excerpts are from Carissa’s blog.
I don’t remember how I found the lump. It seemed so insignificant at the time. But I come from a family of nurses (and worriers), and I thought I better get it checked for peace of mind. Two mammograms, two ultrasounds and a needle biopsy later, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am only 24 years old.
My nurse Jeanne (from Park Nicollet Jane Brattain Breast Center) called me at work on Nov. 2. “We did find cancer in those tumors,” she told me. My heart stopped at that moment. I choked out a response as I shuffled into a quiet room at my office. I tried to scribble all the information she gave me, but I was barely listening to her. All I could think was cancer, cancer, cancer.
My parents, Jamin (my boyfriend) and I all met with Jeanne the next day. She walked us through the pathology report step-by-step and answered all of the questions that had come up in the last 24 hours. Our meeting with Jeanne was incredibly helpful. Her explanations of my breast cancer were clear and concise. But after the meeting, I felt like I had been hit by a train.
My parents, Jamin and I met at Park Nicollet Frauenshuh Cancer Center to meet with my Oncologist. She is the Medical Director of Oncology Research and the Cancer Genetics program. A perfect fit for me, as she has successfully treated the youngest breast cancer patients at the hospital. I tie for the youngest at Park Nicollet at age 24. She is brilliant, kind and totally committed to making sure I get the absolute best treatment. I feel like I am in very good hands.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by my oncology nurse, Rebecca. I instantly adored her. She exuded confidence in her nursing skills and her expertise was visible as soon as she walked in the door. But she was also so compassionate and focused on my care. I wasn’t patient number four; I was Carissa, who was getting her first chemotherapy on her birthday. And she treated me as such.
After the nurses hooked up the drugs, my room was a revolving door of complimentary treatment therapists. First, a music therapist visited. We dimmed the lights while she played a DVD of Native American flute music. She calmly walked us through a visualization exercise that relaxed me so much I promptly fell asleep. Next, a reflexologist came in and gave me a complimentary foot rub, spending extra time on the area on my foot that corresponds to my left breast. It was amazing. Finally, the cutest of the therapists came in – Ella, the therapy golden retriever, who had her own hospital badge and business card.
It was during this appointment that I realized how happy I am with this hospital. Each oncology nurse is better than the next, and my favorites know my name and remember details of my story. My doctor is a brilliant woman who I trust wholeheartedly. And their collective encouragement of complimentary therapies tells me that they are not only concerned with my physical well being, but my emotional and spiritual healing, too. Everyone that walks in the door is concerned about treating me as a whole person, not just cancer patient in room 304.
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