Princess Margaret Hospital has a wonderful tradition that once a patient has completed the full course of chemotherapy treatments, they get to ring”The Bravery Bell”. Today, after my sixth R-CHOP chemotherapy treatment ended, I rang that bell with gusto – so loud that I am sure it could be heard all the way to Alaska!
Watch me ring the bell – and turn the volume up!
For my family and me, it was a culmination of the past four months of chemo treatments. It was a symbol of courage, of hope and of new beginnings. Nagib made this a celebratory event and brought cupcakes from Prairie Girl Bakery for all the nurses. The ringing of the bell and the cupcake celebration was a defining moment in the journey and I feel like dancing!
Of course, the journey wouldn’t be the same without the many volunteers at PMH who supplied us with juices, snacks and newspapers to read, not to mention a shoulder to cry on.
At PMH, as with any hospital, nurses are the cogs that make the wheel go round. Manuel Martinez is one such nurse. Manny is a bit of a legend at PMH Chemotherapy Day Care. I first heard about Manny from a colleague whose husband was treated for cancer at PMH. I heard about him again on my first day of chemo when a nurse said that Manny had the magic touch and would be able to find my elusive vein for chemo if necessary. I heard about him in the chemo waiting area where patients were hoping that Manny would be assigned to them. I did not meet Manny until my second chemo. He was my nurse for a brief period and made the experience of being in the hospital fun, Actually!
Manny comes by his reputation honestly. He has worked at PMH for about 20 years. In 2010, he was nominated by a patient for the Nightingale Award, which is the equivalent of the Grammy’s or Emmy’s for nurses. He has also been nominated for the hospital’s Kirsch Award, 8 out of 10 times. What strikes me most about Manny is his quick wit, wicked sense of humor and ability to tell wonderful stories. He is so completely patient focused that when he is your nurse, you can leave all your anxieties behind with the knowledge that you are in competent hands. His gift is his ability to see you as a person, as opposed to a patient. Manny is engaged to a former cancer patient who is in remission. Manny is one of many nurses who support the Chemo Ward at PMH. There are 15 to 18 nurses that look after approximately 655 patients per week.
Today was my last chemo for the lymphoma and it was only fitting that Manny was my nurse!
This chemo was the easiest I have experienced because there was no long search for uncooperative veins, no pokes for blood, no IV’s. I was so relaxed that I slept through the entire chemo treatment. Why did I not get the PICC line earlier?
Now the Premji Family enters the next phase of our journey where the attention will be on dealing with the Multiple Myleoma. We are curious about what Dr. Tiedemann has in mind about the treatment plan and we will find out in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for details!