Women at Work: The silver lining of cancer treatment? The people at Mayo Clinic
There is a Dr. Suess book entitled "Oh, the Places You’ll Go!" that nearly all parents have read to their children at one point during their upbringing.
Having to deal with cancer during the past six months, I am tempted to write a book titled, "Oh, the People You’ll Meet."
Through my six-month journey, I have traveled the halls of Mayo Clinic, checked in at multiple desks, and recited my name and birthdate more than I have my entire lifetime. Although the cancer, surgery and recovery time have been downers, the people I have met along the way have been the silver lining.
For starters, every single woman I began each appointment with was amazing. Appointment after appointment, I waited for one of them to be curt, rude or unpleasant. But, no matter whether my appointment was at the beginning of the day or end of the day, they treated me like I was their most important patient of the day.
And then there were the nurses, residents and students with whom I crossed paths, each of them kind and knowledgeable. Most likely, the questions I asked were not the first time they had heard them that day or week, but not once was I treated as a number or as if the question had been repetitive to them.
After my surgery, I had weekly or bi-weekly appointments in the Department of Plastic Surgery. One of the team members who would be treating me for weeks entered the examination room, grabbed my hand warmly (and my daughter’s when she was in attendance with me) and always asked how we were. Never have I felt someone so sincere and genuine. When I was having a tough time even glancing down at my scars, she was always so calming and never made me feel crazy for not being able to look.
Another gem in that same department are the photographers. Oh, did they see me a lot, and they saw a lot of me (yes, you read that right). The very first time I had to have full body pictures taken, I felt my face heat up to a brilliant shade of red. I never felt hurried nor did I feel like I was a strange work of art. The second time, I actually smiled as she told me to face the trolls nailed to the walls that provided comical distraction. The third time and beyond I would come through the door peeling my gown off, and she would smile while off-handedly saying, "Whoa, the door isn’t quite shut." I asked one day why gowns were even required in that hallway.
I have now met with surgeons in three departments. Those surgeons have gone above and beyond my expectations in a variety of ways. All my procedures were thoroughly explained, and if there were any options to them, they were explained in their entirety, including the advantages and disadvantages. Best yet? They were all very blunt and clear. I appreciated their way of interacting with me; it was almost as if they could sense what would put me at ease.
Lastly, the bedside manner of every nurse I came in contact with was impeccable. My daughter, Haley, is in her second year of nursing, and I hope her bedside manner is as great as those who helped me. It is such a comfort when one is treated with dignity and kindness.
Although my journey will result in at least one more surgery, I have been made to feel completely comfortable with what is coming. I know I am in the capable hands of people who care about their patients. And I am grateful for all involved.