The architect who designed Huntsman Cancer Hospital is a friend of ours. I called him one day to thank him for designing such an amazing facility. I didn’t mean to choke back tears on his voicemail, but I did. Walking into Huntsman is a peaceful and comforting experience. It has a decidedly warm, non-hospital feel to it where people smile at you in the elevators and lobbies, and patients in the waiting areas look content.
I know that the physical space helps to create this welcoming feeling, but the real warmth comes from the people who are part of my care.
When I first arrived, another patient mentioned how the staff was like his extended family. I am glad that I am now part of this family. These remarkable people are all capable and competent, but they are more than this. They care about me and about their other patients. They do difficult things every day to provide care, but are also willing to do small and simple things for everyone visiting the clinic – patients, caregivers and visitors.
You get to meet these extraordinary people. (I wasn’t able to get photos of everyone, but I am still working on this. We need a few more trips with the camera to get everyone, but I will update as I get them.)
My next stop after arrival is the lab, where I get weighed, get my blood pressure taken and get my height checked to see if I have gotten shorter since yesterday. April and Jolin both work in the lab full-time and go to school, so they are very busy people. They are bright spots in my day.
I need a picture of Elaine here, who is the best port-accesser ever. Her Doberman just won the show at the National Dog Show in Kansas. Congratulations, Elaine!
In the infusion room, I receive chemo, fluids or any other treatment. This is also the room for stem cell collections. It is a very busy room during the week and keeps everyone hopping. I hope to get photos of all of the nurses including Jill, Deb, Malene and Laurie. This is Erline, a sharp nurse who is kind and knows her stuff. I am grateful for her help and her efficiency, especially for helping me get through the not-so-great days.
Huntsman Cancer Center is one of three facilities in the nation to do the stem cell transplant as an outpatient procedure. As I am on the tail end of my first transplant, I see the great benefit of this. Except for situations that require hospitalization, you get to sleep in your own bed, eat the food you like, visit with family and friends and heal faster. Part of this healing is seeing the same friendly faces and having continuity of care in the clinic.
Abby and Andrea work under my doctor as Physician’s Assistants and help assess and direct care. I still need a photo of Abby, but this is Andrea. They are both bright, talented, capable and kind. I still like them, even though they are responsible for my bone marrow biopsies. I try not to harbor grudges.
Huntsman offers additional resources to help with the treatment process. One resource is a Coordinator, who makes sure that all of the details of treatment are scheduled and, well, coordinated. Carol makes sure that tests, treatments, medicines, dates, nutrition and counseling are all provided, depending on what I need.
Geri is a counselor and great listener. She helped me learn how to deep breathe and relax during the emotionally and physically stressful parts of the treatment. She is sympathetic and understanding and has made the entire process easier to handle.
Of course, I owe a great gratitude to my doctor, Dr. Guido Tricot. I admire his experience and his depth of work in the field of Multiple Myeloma. I appreciate his thorough but unhurried nature. I am grateful for his personal concern, even with all that he has to do. He has great responsibilities at Huntsman and rightly so. He will not only successfully care for patients but will greatly advance the efforts of myeloma research and cures in the coming years.
I am lucky to have joined this amazing extended family. They have both capacity and compassion, a truly perfect combination for me and for my new myeloma friends.