Category Archives: In my Corner

In My Corner: The Nazareth Oncology Nurses

This past Sunday, June 1, 2014, was National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Nazareth Hospital hosted a luncheon to celebrate the survivors and invited me to be the guest speaker.  Overall, the day was fun, laughs were had and my speech went relatively well. One of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much was because the four nurses that I have dealt with since receiving my infusions at Nazareth were there.  They all greeted me with a hug and a smile.   As always, they made me feel important and I left the luncheon feeling grateful and sentimental for all that they do.

Nurses are special people.  They are the first people you speak to when meeting with a imasurvivordoctor and are mostly pleasant and kind. They have the duty of taking blood pressures, obtaining your medical history and hearing about your ailments.  And they normally do this with a smile, no matter what type of day they are having.

My oncology nurses are no exception to this rule albeit one big difference – they administer chemotherapy to cancer patients!  This cannot be easy.  From my years at the receiving end of chemo, I’ve observed what they do daily.  They access the patients body through their ports or arm, they mix and deliver the drugs, they help alleviate the side effects of the drugs, and they are the sounding boards of the patients.  As a patient, you deal with the nurses much more than you even see the doctor.

Because this is the In My Corner section to Cancer Boxer, I have to give special mention to the four nurses at Nazareth Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia for giving me a truly positive experience during a stressful period.  I’ve been fortunate to have all wonderful nurses in my history of chemo, but am focusing on the women at Nazareth because this is where I’ve been all year, and this is what I feel today.

Kathy was my first nurse who sat with me all day while I had my first dose of Ofatumumab in the hospital.  Because of the high risk of an allergic reaction, she had to sit with me for almost 12 hours!  I also had a terrible cough at this time and she worked tirelessly to try and find me something I could take that wouldn’t negatively interact with the drug (we never found anything).  I’m sure it was a boring day for her, but we spent my waking hours conversing, learning about each other and just getting along.  As far as first experiences go, Nazareth Oncology was off on the right foot.

Peggy works in the Infusion Suite in the hospital.  While going weekly for 2 months, I would always see Peggy perform on other patients.  She was extremely patient, loving and knowledgeable.  When I was getting drunk on the Benadryl drip, it was Peggy who could describe how I was feeling before I could!


Kathy, Terry, Me, Nicole and Peggy

With the exception of my first two infusions, Nicole was my regular oncology nurse.  From what I could see, Nicole was always smiling!  Her kind demeanor would easily reduce the stress about the chemo that I was having.  We would have our friendly talks and she always would remember things we talked about in past weeks.  Nicole would also have to deal with my side effect complaints and would research, make phone calls or do in her power what could be done to alleviate them. I felt like after two months of weekly treatments that I had gained a friend and even missed her (and Peggy) when I stopped seeing them every Tuesday.

The Oncology Navigator, Terry is a major reason why I came to trust Nazareth for my Infusions.  She also sat in with me for a few hours during my first dose of Ofotumumab and had so much knowledge, facts and advice to give.  She is extremely intelligent, funny, diligent and has a huge heart.  Terry runs the support group that I now attend and was the driving force behind the Survivor’s Day luncheon.  From what I see, Terry is truly passionate about her job and it shows in her performance.

I could write more about these remarkable women and would give them praise to anyone who will listen.  Too often, people are quick to vocalize the negative in others, but I choose to scream out the positive.  They manage to take as much stress out of an extremely stressful situation for their patients.  I think about how much trust I have put into these women and am amazed at how capable and caring they are.  They truly are as the saying goes: “Nurses are angels without wings”.

Category: In my Corner

My Coach and Biggest Fan

I’ve tried and tried to figure out how to start writing this.  I’m finding it difficult to put into words the gratefulness I feel for my coach, my trainer and my biggest fan.  Of course I’m talking about Shelby.  No matter which hurdle I face, she is the one encouraging me to plow right through it.

Sometimes I think it’s worse to be the loved one of someone with an illness than to be the actual patient.  For me, I go into meandShelbysurvivor mode.  I go to my appointments, I do what I’m told by my doctors and I push forward.  The loved ones do all of the worrying; they are the ones with the anxiety about the toll the disease may take.  Mostly they do this with a poker face.  Shelby is no exception to this.  It seems that every time we receive bad news, she makes sure I’m okay while suffering in silence herself.

In case you haven’t met her, here are some of the most interesting facts about my meandshelgirlfriend of five years.  First, she does not tolerate disrespect.  Second, she is always honest.  Shelby is also the hardest worker I have ever come across! Whether it’s working in our yard or doing work for her clients, she does not stop until the job is finished!  She is also an eternal child who likes to tickle and torture me more often than I’d like to admit.

I can name three things that make Shelby truly happy:

1. Cher

2. Perfectly cooked lobster in butter sauce

3. Her nieces Sophia and Emma, and my cousins Shawn and Bryan.

I chose to write about Shelby for my first installment of ‘In My Corner’ because there has been no greater support than her these past few years.  She attends all of my appointments, has driven me home after a long Shelbyday of chemo and makes sure I get plenty of sleep.  She also makes me smile and laugh like no other person has ever done!  And it’s not just with my illness!  She encourages me to do well in school. When I was still in the band she went to all of my shows. And she lets me go for a run when I need to get out.  I’ve never experienced such unconditional love and support.

So thank you, Shelby.  You have been the most incredible, influential person I have ever met!  You inspire me every day to be a better person; for me, for you and for us.  I’m proud of who we are and I’m proud of our relationship.  Thank you being my ear, my rock and my sounding board.

Oh, and I love you….MORE!


Category: In my Corner

In My Corner; My Cancer Support Team

I’d like to use this category as a tribute to those who have helped during this fight.  I normally end each post with a general thank you to everybody but this page will be dedicated to those individually.  It can be strangers, family or an old Facebook friend who sent me an encouraging quote.  I am amazed everyday at the kindness of people and I feel that everyone deserves some acknowledgement.

So, here it goes.  Look for my first post in a few days.



Category: In my Corner
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