We arrived at Beth Israel’s Shapiro Center early one November morning for my husband Bruce’s first session of chemo with not a little trepidation. But Annie was Bruce’s primary chemo nurse, and she was one in a million, the one who made the difference for us. Whoever could have guessed that a chemo clinic could be so cheery and optimistic, but with Annie in charge, that’s exactly what it was. My first question to her was about pain. She immediately shook her head. “No,’’ she stated, in no uncertain terms, “he does not have to be in pain.’’ We had just met, but I knew from the start that I could trust her to be true. Hearing those words from her was like a weight lifted from my heart.
Kind intelligent, and understanding, Ann Brady is the archetype of the ideal oncology nurse. Bruce wanted nothing more than normalcy, and that is what Annie gave us. She took care of us both, with intelligence, respect, and compassion, and her caring was limitless. When Bruce went to the Medical Intensive Care Unit, Annie’s work was done, but she still cared, and visited Bruce all along the way at BI, until we went to hospice.
I can’t imagine being in better hands and will be forever grateful that she was with us on that awful and uncertain journey. More than anyone, it was Annie who made it bearable.
—Nominated by Wendy Ford
Maura Brain is so good. She calls to make sure I go my doctor. She is good to all the people she sees. She takes her time. She is my nurse. No one could take her place in my heart.
—Nominated by Charlotte Burns
Laura Connelly and 7 Feldberg Nurses
At the age of 62, I was suddenly thrust from the healthy world into the world of the sick with a diagnosis of acute myeloma leukemia (AML). Instead of going to play tennis with friends, I was instructed by my physician to go immediately to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where an oncology team was waiting for me.
Even though I worked in hospitals as a social worker for many years, I was shocked that this terrible diagnosis had happened to me. I was extremely lucky to have the bone marrow transplant medical team responsible for my cure. The team, including my wonderful doctor, Salvia Jain, provided the guidance to get me to day 90 post-transplant, with few bumps in the road. However, it was Laura Connelly, my primary nurse, and the rest of the nursing angels of the 7 Feldberg (Bone Marrow Transplant Unit) that got me over the hardest obstacles.
The fevers, headaches, nausea, weakness, lack of appetite, periodic depression, and fear of the terrible unknown, all were overcome through the professional guidance and emotional support of my nurses. Laura displayed a never-ending positive attitude that helped me reconnect with my healthy self. The leukemia was a marathon that we would run together. Laura and the nursing staff were there 24 hours a day to help me bathe, change my dressing, to chat with me, and listen to my silly jokes. “You’ll be running soon, Don,’’ she’d say. “We’ll run together. Just gotta get through this round of chemo, get you to the transplant.’’ Instead of being overwhelmed by an alien disease, I was helped to focus on one medical goal at a time.
How was my experience any different from others who have received bone marrow transplant at BIDMC? It probably isn’t. That is what is so incredible. One hundred percent of the time I felt I was treated like a family member, with kindness and understanding. This is how nursing care should be; this is the kind of nursing care I received. Thank goodness for Laura Connelly and the Nursing Angels of 7 Feldberg.
—Nominated by Don Frost
Last fall, I went to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital for breast cancer surgery. I was upset by my diagnosis and feeling afraid and alone. Before the surgery, I faced other procedures, including the insertion of wires in my breast to guide the surgeon. The mammogram technologist, Karen Dowie, who assisted in that procedure helped me immensely. She guided me through the painful process, making me feel cared for and not alone, warmly relating to me as a person not an object to be dealt with. She explained other upcoming preparations before the surgery and made me feel a lot more at ease with what I faced for the rest of the day. I am very grateful for her support and caring attitude.
—Nominated by Janet Wineman
I met Jane in 2008, when she made it possible for me to receive cancer treatment much closer to home. Five years later, I met Jane, again this time for four months of chemotherapy. It was comforting to have someone I had had contact with before. Jane was everything I and anybody undergoing chemo would want. She is knowledgeable, caring, and friendly. She explained to me the possible side effects, so I was somewhat prepared. She was a phone call away when I had concerns about certain side effects.
—Nominated by Barbara R. Smith
In September, 2013, I was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. This diagnosis required surgery followed by several weeks of radiation and chemotherapy protocols. Nancy was my primary care nurse though the daily radiation protocols. For eight weeks, five days a week, Nancy was there by my side. She put my family, caregivers, and me at ease immediately. Nancy was always available to address concerns and answer questions. She returned phone calls immediately, even though the questions might have been minimal. Nancy always had a sunny welcoming personality and a kind greeting for everyone. The Beth Israel Hospital is extremely fortunate to have a nurse of Nancy France’s caliber and dedication as part of their staff.
I am not sure I adequately expressed to Nancy my gratitude for all she did for me. I am extremely grateful and thankful for having worked with Nancy on my treatments. Although my journey is still long, I feel confident of my continued success in the treatments.
—Nominated by Rochelle Gottlieb
I felt emotionally broken, as if I were failing my unborn child when preterm labor began at 25 weeks. I was admitted at the beginning of week 26 and, some days, I felt there was no way I would be able to pull through and have this baby under healthy circumstances. I constantly doubted myself until I met Joanne, my night nurse. She lifted me up and kept telling me she would help me get through this and that I would be OK. Just remember, each and every day makes a difference for the baby and for you, she’d say. She really did help me believe in myself and helped me find hope. It was psychologically crippling at times to go on, but here I am at home. I am currently approaching 34 weeks still on bed rest, and I know I can do this because Joanne helped me to believe in myself.
—Nominated by Janelle A. Quintero
Kristen has been my chemotherapy nurse since April, 2013. I see her every two weeks. She’s empathetic, genuinely affectionate, and goes out of her way to be helpful with appointment scheduling and other matters. She knows her work well, and I feel like a task partner rather than a “patient’’ with her. I feel fully informed about what’s going on, as does my wife, who usually accompanies me to my treatment. Kristen doesn’t simply accept the judgment of others, but makes an independent assessment of treatment plans, always involving me in the process. Though she is quite busy whenever I’m there, I never feel like a burden or just another task; when she’s in my treatment area, I have her full attention. Kristen is also extraordinarily careful about what she gets from the pharmacy, and everything is double checked for accurate dosage, rate of flow, and so on before she administers it. I feel quite safe and well cared for, and lucky to have been assigned to her cohort of patients.
—Nominated by Peter Gumpert
Sarah’s dedication to her profession and to my son is unparalleled. Charlie was born on December 27, 2013, 13 weeks early. Sarah is his prime nurse and is the most wonderful, kind, and thoughtful person I have ever met. The love and attention she gives my son takes my breath away. Charlie has a long road ahead, but it is because of the care he receives from Sarah that he has the opportunity to thrive and grow. We love her.
—Nominated by Kate Dempsy
Linda Veglia is a warm, compassionate person, an excellent teacher and communicator, and a skilled clinician. When my partner, James O’Hare, needed an esophageal manometry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, what should have been a clear-cut, routine procedure became very difficult because of Jim’s pulmonary problems and need for a high liter-flow of oxygen.
Linda was rightfully concerned about Jim about maintaining a healthy SAT rate, which required careful monitoring. She worked with extreme patience and exhibited a knowledgeable approach to the procedure. She explained the rationale for every decision she made, remained calm and unperturbed when Jim experienced distress, and ultimately performed and completed the manometry successfully, crucial for Jim’s pulmonary treatment. We all breathed huge sighs of relief as Linda proceeded to give us the instructions for home care and further monitoring. Jim and I thanked her profusely, but rather than relaxing, Linda smiled and professionally began to prepare for her next patient. Linda is impressive in all aspects of her work. Her experience and wisdom made all the difference between success and failure.
—Nominated by Anne Serafin