I started writing this post on February 9. At first I was too tired to finish it, and lately I’ve been too damn busy with work and healing appointments and exercise and seeing my friends and still getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night to finish it. But today, the one year anniversary of an ER doctor saying “lymphoma” to me, I want to take a moment to acknowledge you, my extraordinary team. I owe a strong measure of my sanity, strength, and survival to you, the people in my life…my team.
Without further ado, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, to…
…to Dr. Elisabeth Wallner, my GP. She first heard what was going on with my heart and made sure I was in the hospital that very day. She provided an oncologist the second I needed one (the following day) and have been monitoring my progress throughout. She has been an amazing safety net.
…to Dr. Regina Stein and the other doctors and nurses and techs and administrative staff at Hematology-Oncology Associates of Illinois. Dr. Stein showed up like an angel from the heavens when I was completely zonked out on barbiturates right after my biopsy, and Michael looked nothing short of completely overwhelmed. Her confidence, kindness, expertise, humility, and sense of humor has kept this entire horrifying process in exactly the place it needs to be in my life: something that needed to be fixed, but not something to take the place of my life.
…to the nurses and techs on the 14th floor of Prentice Women’s, especially Kari, Ashley, Siobhan, Mary, and Ron. I spent 51 out of 115 days on this floor, and you helped to make this time comfortable by managing medications and orders, fighting battles for me, calming me down in the middle of the night, taking vitals while I was in downward dog or on an exercise bike, drawing blood in the hallway so we didn’t disturb a sleeping Michael, helping me guess the One Ring to Rule Them All in a game of 20 questions, bringing me muffins and turnovers when I just couldn’t handle the hospital food for one more minute, giving me the best foot massage ever, ignoring the fact that I tend to ignore all signs and posted instructions, saving my favorite room for me, and getting to know my husband and friends and helping them to feel welcome and safe in a sometimes frightening environment.
…to Dr. Malcolm DeCamp and his team at Northwestern’s thoracic surgery department. He removed my sweetbreads with kindness, humor, and best of all with a sharp knife and invisible stitches. And calls me Sunshine. Seriously, what else does a girl need from her surgeon?
…to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Northwestern Memorial Faculty Foundation. They are extraordinary physical facilities staffed by extraordinary medical professionals. From the hilarious team in Interventional Radiology, to the eminently kind and knowledgable head of Lymphoma, Dr. Leo Gordon, and his staff of doctors, to the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and triage people in the emergency room, to the professional and kind folks in nuclear medicine (PET scans) and radiology (X-RAY and CT scans), to the patient transport folks, the housekeepers, the dining-on-call folks, and I know I’m forgetting someone, I have been taken care of brilliantly and felt nurtured throughout.
…to our amazing team of second opinions: the indomitable folks at LiveSTRONG and the team at both Dana Farber and the University of Chicago. Without these people for idea bouncing and reassurance, we both would have felt incredibly lost.
…to Dr. Jeanine Turner at Cardiac Wellness. It is outstandingly appropriate that this empathetic and intuitive woman chose to become a cardiologist. I have never met someone more in tune with the needs of the heart, both physical and metaphorical, who happens to wield an ultrasound wand. She kept me reassured that my heart was managing the onslaught of chemotherapy with brilliance, while keeping my heart reassured that everything else was unfolding in its own perfection.
…to Dr. Madeline Wagner and Dr. Sara Yogev. These brilliant women kept me stitched together spiritually, mentally, emotionally, energetically, and physically. I cannot imagine going through this entire process without professional support for my head, heart, and chemotherapy-attacked body. Whether it involved supporting my healthy systems to withstand the chemical assault, encouraging my Type-A to just take a back seat for a bit, or helping me work through the sadness and frustration of being 33 and SICK, these women rose to the task and beat all expectations.
…to my extraordinary friends and family from as far away as Australia and Hong Kong to as close as the other end of the couch. You have given me words of kindness in person, over the phone, via email, via SMS, written in calligraphy or scrawl, and telepathically. You have given me chocolates, fudge, music, DVDs, books, healing blue auras of light, hugs, tissues, baths, head shaves, make-up lessons, shots, take-out, boxes of candies and boxes of vegetables, games, balloons, orchids, stuffed animals, posters, pictures, and an office filled with chickens and one-third of the proceeds from egg sales. You have given me laughter, hugs, undisturbed naps, confidence, and sanity.
…to Michael, Corinna, and Ellen. You get big blue ribbons, and you know exactly why.
My love to you all. Thank you.