More Than a Patient, More Than a Nurse

“Hi my name is Tricia and I'm going to be your nurse today...” In March of 2014, the introduction I’d spoken many times over my past 20 years as a Registered Nurse changed my life forever. I met Tricia Somers, a 45-year-old single mother, who was recovering from a minor surgical procedure. Tricia Somers (yes, same name as mine, same spelling, same initials T.S.) was diagnosed in October 2013 with a rare form of liver cancer. Initially, doctors thought the cancer would progress slowly and simply have to be monitored. By the time I met Tricia, she was experiencing severe abdominal pain and knew that her disease was quickly changing.  Throughout my evening of caring for Tricia, we talked about her 8-year-old son Wesley. It was very obvious to me that Tricia loved her son very much and being away from him was difficult. Tricia was hospitalized for 3 weeks during that stay. I was never assigned to her again, however, I visited her every time I worked, just to check in on her and say hello. On the day of her discharge, I walked in to say goodbye. The mood of the room was very solemn. A social worker sat quietly beside Trish. I apologized for interrupting what seemed to be a very serious discussion. Trish assured me that it was ok and she was glad I had stopped. "The results came back from the biopsy and the cancer has spread... it's terminal.” My heart sank for her. I hugged her, told her how truly sorry I was and that I’d keep her in my prayers, and turned towards the door. Trish stopped me, "I'm really glad you stopped in, I was afraid I would not see you again and I have something I need to ask you. If I die, will you and your husband take my son, and raise him?" I think my heart literally stopped at that moment. I was speechless. Still in shock, I encouraged Trish to take some time to think through her options, and maybe consult with an attorney. We hugged again, parted ways, and never exchanged a phone number, email or anything. But I knew I'd see her again. t’s been 8 months since I met Tricia Somers for the first time. On May 17, 2014 she and Wesley came to live with our family. I feel as though we lived a lifetime in the 5 months she lived with us. We have so many wonderful memories to treasure. It was certainly not easy adjusting to new family members. For Trish and Wesley, it had always just been the 2 of them, and now they were in a family of 8 people! Thankfully, Trish thrived on the chaos and constant activity! In October, Trish's health really started declining and we both knew our time together was getting short. On October 17th, with the help of our wonderful Hospice care team, the decision was made to transfer Trish so that she would be able to receive round-the-clock nursing and comfort care. We visit her often, but it is not the same. Each time I pass her room here in our home I think she should be in there. Our journey now continues with little Wesley in a whole new way. We are trying to provide comfort and support to a little boy who is losing the most important person in his life. But I believe with my whole heart that God has this whole journey in His plan.  think the most important thing I have learned from Trish Somers is to live life to the fullest, each day. She has taught me not to worry and fret over the little stuff. With Trish, the sunshine is a little brighter, the breeze feels extra good on your face, and the sound of the crickets on a warm summer night have never sounded so beautiful. I'm not sure I will ever do my job the same again. Or perhaps, I will show more compassion, more patience, more grace than I ever did before. As we head towards the holiday season this year, I encourage each one of you to take the time to cherish those you love. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Read more about Tricia, Tricia, Wesley and their family's incredible story here and here