Kyle's Letter

At least he brings one women in his life flowers!
I think I caught a few posts on Facebook last week about it being National Nurses Week. I know a few, so I probably should have thanked them for all the nasty stuff we know they love to do. We can all use our imaginations. Or for some of us that have been poked and prodded in our nether regions, no imagination required! I know sometimes their job can make changing Lachlan's diapers seem like child's play.

Not that I ever underestimate him, but I was surprised that Kyle was moved by the cause and had drafted a letter to my very own infusion nurse, Nikki. Kyle wanted everyone that counted to know what it meant for us to have Nikki as our nurse, and how her ability to do her job made our cancer journey that much more meaningful. She is a huge piece of the big picture for us.

I personally think it takes someone special to choose the nursing profession, especially considering I have issues with things that ooze and smell. But to be an infusion nurse and to choose oncology takes guts. It is a job where you are guaranteed to feel the glory of survival, but the defeat of death. You will develop relationships will people who will not make it, and you are there to provide intimate care and comfort to people who are staring into the unknown. You have to make them feel like everything is going to be alright, when you know first hand that it doesn't always turn out that way. You are in a field where death is so often the inevitable.

So this week Kyle took it upon himself to honor just one person in our cancer journey who really does make a difference, even if I'm asleep the entire time she's taking care of me. He wrote a letter, copied it all the way to the very top boss and delivered it along with some flowers to her on Friday. I simply got a text with this photo, and have to say I was utterly impressed considering I had no part in any of it.

Here's what he had to say:

To Whom It May Concern:

In celebration of Nurse’s Week this year I’d like to share this story about my wife and our nurse, Nikki Spears.

Last year Nikki helped Sarah through an adjunct chemotherapy treatment.  12 times Sarah sat in that La-Z-Boy and held on for dear life.  Nikki was always keenly aware of what Sarah valued during the experience and always did everything in her power to make it happen - quickly but carefully.  Nikki didn’t need to be told.  She had a sixth sense for Sarah’s deep and unspoken uneasiness.  Probably a sense she’s earned from experience.  I preferred to think she was born with it.

Nikki managed it all with such grace, and I watched in awe.  The incessant and maddening alarms, the 20+ patient days of never ending apologies, the smell of Bojangles biscuits and popcorn, the thunderous snoring, the commotion when the lunch volunteers arrive, the obligation to wake up sleeping patients just to ask them what their name is.  

The hurried “goodbyes” to good friends she may never see again, the hurried “hellos” to new patients that have never been this scared in their adult life.

Some of the other nurses aren’t as strong - they are visibly on the verge of a breakdown.  I feel so sorry for them, they know they aren’t cut out for this, but they do it anyway.  Maybe because they have to, maybe because they love their patients – I don’t know, but I know they weren’t born with Nikki’s superpowers.

In February of this year we received confirmation that my wife’s disease has metastasized to her lungs and we reeled with devastation.  Grief spilled into us as the hope drained away.  The grieving process was intense, but after a few weeks it began to wane.  The more information we got the better we felt.  We were ready to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we were ready to don our galoshes and start trudging through the mud again.

So there Sarah and I were, back at VOA Lake Wright; both pretty numb.  Our emotional fortresses were in place.

We saw Nikki in the hallway.  Nikki immediately says to Sarah “Hey girl, what are you doing here?”  She asked the question in a sweet and hopeful tone, but the answer was ominous.  

Sarah tried, but couldn’t summon a sound, and instead she broke down.  You have to know Sarah to know how remarkable this moment was.  Sarah is one of the toughest chicks I’ve ever met; she was a probation officer, until recently few people had seen the softer side of her.

I didn’t have a plan for this, I couldn’t process it, so I stood slack-jawed and watched it all unfold – my fortress blinding me to how important this moment was.

Nikki, on the other hand, rushed to Sarah and held her like a child, like a life long friend.  The more Sarah sobbed the tighter Nikki clung to her.  I, her husband, her life partner, stood there like an idiot, silent and emotionless.  

Nikki is and continues to be the single most comforting part of our experience with VOA.  She is the face of cancer care to us and the importance of this to us cannot be overemphasized.

I want to thank all the nurses that carry themselves like Nikki Spears.  And I want to thank the people that support them; the people that educate them, the people that console them, and the people that provide for them – no one could do it alone.

But most of all I want to thank you Nikki.  

I want to thank you on behalf of Sarah’s family, on behalf of Sarah’s friends.

Above all all I want to thank you on behalf of my two sons who aren’t even old enough to go in the infusion room where you do your amazing work.  Someday, when they’re older, and when you’re done saving their mother’s life, they will understand how amazing you are.


Kyle Woody

For you all you nurses out there, whether you never see the same patient twice or become entrenched in one of the hardest journeys of their lives, you are appreciated for the job that you do.


melissaolivero76 said...

This brought tears(more like waterfalls) to my eyes. God bless you Nikki and all of the rest of the selfless nurses out there, especially those infusion nurses. I agree, they are a special special breed. My Mom and Dad felt the same way through my Dad's cancer journey. xoxo

Carrie S. said...

Speechless. Go Kyle - and Go Nikki!