Upon learning of my breast cancer diagnosis, I began immediately and stressfully meeting oncologists and picking hospitals when one of my good friends (a long-time cancer survivor herself!) sent me this story (excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Soul).
At the time, I thought the story was sweet but I wouldn’t feel the true impact of it until nearly 5 months later. The story initially served as an important reminder to get second opinions and go where I felt most comfortable for each phase of treatment – even if it meant splitting between hospitals in Washington D.C. and NYC.
I liked the 2nd oncologist I met with immediately upon meeting her. She’s very sweet, even-toned, with impeccable bedside manners. I felt like I trusted her right away and she bore the brunt of my initial frustration towards cancer, oncologists and overall chemo extremely gracefully. As we got to know each other over the course of my chemo, she spoiled me with her overwhelming knowledge of breast cancer facts and studies. I appreciated that she gave me all the treatment options for my case, then carefully dissected the pros and cons for me of each route. She is blunt but with gentle delivery and she made those hellish months of going through chemo completely bearable. As time passed, I looked forward to our 21 day pre-chemo check-ins. She always came in with a big smile, would give me a big hug, and then subject herself to my word vomit. I always came with far too many questions, concerns, and funnies for the allotted time – but she never once rushed me. She always made sure to follow up with materials or answers when she said she would and would always keep things realistic, but positive. Five months later, I’m now in the midst of transitioning the next phases of my treatment back to New York City and although I am thankful beyond belief to be done with chemo I am saddened to be leaving her and her wonderful team. I also now fully understand the impact of that story I shared above. While fighting any form or stage of cancer (or disease) is probably one of the scariest things one might face in their life, having a doctor that inspires hope makes a world of difference.
Dr. Nunes, you changed my life. I have no words to adequately thank you for thoroughly inspiring me to fight like hell the last few months. You gave me the armor I needed to get through some of the darkest times of my life. I am forever grateful you treated me like an equal and a friend, and not just like patient #948384. And while I am still traumatized by the thought of having to leave your care, thank you for giving me a seat at the (medical) table.
Also, much gratitude goes to Akai (my doctor’s amazing assistant who turned around everything I ever needed at lightning speed), and my chemo infusion nurses – Beverly, Alice and Alex. Thank you for the kindness, reassurance and laughter through those sessions. For my health’s sake, I hope to never see you again because I need a chemo infusion – but a visit in regular, normal life is much welcomed!
With so much love and gratitude,