By Tina Inman
In honor of National Nurses Week (May 6-12), one parent looks back on the “superstar” team of nurses who has offered her family one-of-a-kind support throughout her daughter Effie’s cancer treatment at Lurie Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019. That is the day our lives changed forever when we joined a club we never wanted to join: The cancer club.
The devastating news came via phone, and we were told the diagnosis was Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. We had to go to Lurie Children’s within the hour. We were in the car on the way downtown, me driving and crying, my husband silent and stoic in the passenger seat.
Effie, who was 9 years old, said from the back seat, “Mom, I’m scared.” I said, “Me too, babe.” She said, “No mom, I’m really worried.” I said, “I know babe, but they have a plan for us, so we have to have faith in that and trust we’ll be OK.” She went quiet for a few minutes and then said: “You know what, Mom? You’re right. It could be worse, right?”
And that became our mantra: It could be worse.
Once admitted at Lurie Children’s, we met our first superstar nurse: Ellie. As we settled into the place that would become home many times over the next two years, Ellie brought her smile and her positivity and guided us through our first inpatient stay. All I wanted to do was just break down and cry. But I didn’t, I couldn’t, because I would have been the only one.
It didn’t take long to learn something about these amazing nurses: Their strength, support and confidence was so infectious. Ellie made me strong in those dark first days because she was so strong. She already knew the plan we were to follow, grabbed us by the hand and led us on the path, always with a sweet, supportive smile and endless encouragement that we could do this.
We ended up meeting so many superstar nurses throughout our many stays in the two years to come. Each time we met a new nurse, I would have that “uh-oh” moment: Will they be as good? Will they know what Effie needs? Will they be as kind? And every time, the answer was yes, yes and yes!
I wish I could recognize every single wonderful nurse that gave us much needed support but it was honestly every single one. It became clear that it wasn’t just one nurse, not just one shift, not just one day; it was the culture among all of the nurses at Lurie Children’s.
Nurses put everything into perspective for us. When we struggled with our emotions during inpatient stays they came in. They distracted when treatment was rough. They engaged when they saw and felt our sadness. They entertained us when our visits felt long. They sent magicians in to pass our time. They brought gifts and donations and games from the playroom.
After two years of treatment, dozens of overnights and countless doses of chemo, I can honestly say that every nurse we encountered at Lurie’s was the same way: Strong and genuine advocates and leaders through even the most stressful moments.
People often talk about silver linings. We have several: Effie’s cancer was treated at the most amazing children’s hospital in our area. Effie is almost done with frontline treatment and is due to ring the bell in September! And we’ve had an amazing team that has taken care of us throughout this journey, including Dr. Morgan!
Our wonderful nurses have consistently been the brightest silver lining throughout our darkest storm. And for that, we will be forever grateful.