Today, the featured Incredible Women are Annette Merzlock, one of the nurses who worked in the chemo room - yep, she's one of the people who poisoned me! Haha. I really love the nurses there - they helped me so much... they were always kind and smiling, and they would do anything to make you comfortable. They'll get you a pillow, a cup of ice, a snack, make sure your nausea meds are working, etc. What wonderful women. I hope to be able to introduce you to more of them this week. The other woman I'm featuring today, is Iris Smale, a breast cancer survivor, whose blog, "Me and Breast Cancer" is one of the blogs I read. Congratulations, Iris!
KARA: "Why did you choose to work with cancer patients?"
ANNETTE: " I wasn't really planning on it but was offered a job on the Medical/Oncology floor of the hospital as a new nurse. I loved working with the patients there. When offered a job full time at the Oncology Clinic I couldn't turn it down. The BEST people in the world get cancer, it's just unfortunate that they do get something so challenging. But then again, isn't that what makes us stronger? I never thought I could work with cancer patients. As a young child I watched my brother suffer tremendously from cancer, and the nurses at Primary Children's Hospital inspired me. I later became a nurse, but didn't think I could face the pain and suffering cancer can impose on a life. I was wrong! It's the most rewarding place I could enjoy working. I appreciate the opportunity to endure this with so many friends and wonderful people that enter the chemo room every day."
KARA: "Has there been a patient who has changed your life?"
ANNETTE: " I think every day I have life changing experiences working with cancer patients as I view their courage and the battles they face. I admire so many of my patients' ability to stay positive, to forge on without thought but for a positive outcome, and just live in the midst of so many obstacles. Most people aren't just dealing with cancer, it's multiple obstacles in every day life. So, to see their strength and endurance throughout the cancer experience is absolutely life changing. I appreciate knowing the patients and learning about them. If I named particular people I wouldn't have enough time to list them. It's also inspiring to watch these people change through their experience. It's like they have a 2nd chance at life. They become the people they want to be. They value the important things in life - that's life changing in itself."
KARA: "How do you come to work each day with a smile on your face?"
ANNETTE: "It's like I have a room full of best friends. They ask about my life, I love finding out what's happening in theirs. How couldn't that put a smile on your face? You know, so many times a patient will bring in something to say thank you, and it always amazes us as nurses. We feel like, "Don't worry about us, you're the one who's not feeling well. We are worried about you!" Nonetheless, they still take time to say thank you and focus their concern on us, and it's absolutely amazing. We work with the best people here in the Oncology Clinic. It puts a HUGE smile on your face every day!"
KARA: "What is the most important thing to know about breast cancer?"
ANNETTE: " I don't think I'm qualified to answer this question. Those who've been through the experience could answer this better than I. One thing that's always important though, is that the earlier the cancer can be detected, the better the results; but don't give up hope if that doesn't occur. It's not uncommon for doctors to miss the cancer in the beginning, because there aren't clear cut signs most of the time. Cancer is usually masked by something else. Another thing to remember throughout the experience is that you need to be patient with yourself. It takes a while to make you sick, and it will take a while to get you better. We live in such a fast pace, get-it-done-now society. Cancer puts the patience back in your life!"
--Annette Merzlock, RN, BSN, OCN (registered nurse)
KARA: "What are the most important things that you've learn while going through breast cancer?"
IRIS: "Put all my dependence on God and His ability to take care of me, and not to take the future for granted."
KARA: "How has having cancer changed you as a person?"
IRIS: "I try and live more in the present. The past is gone and we can't get it back, the future isn't promised and may not be ours, all we really have is today - make the most of it."
KARA: "Because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, can you give the women who read this blog some advice about breast cancer?"
IRIS: "Absolutely! Don't be shy about getting a second opinion. Doctors are not always right, that's apparently why they call it "practicing medicine". Do research, ask questions, ask lots of questions and be sure you get the right answers. Get copies of every test - yeah, you may have a drawer full, but that's okay. And doctors have to give you copies of your own information. Learn what the test results mean. Yes, have your mammograms and tests, but you know your body better than anyone else. Do self exams!!! I found a lump just before my scheduled mammogram, told the doctor and they noted it on the mammogram. Radiologist said don't worry, it's just cystic. It got bigger, Dr said not to worry. I confided to a nurse friend and she insisted that I get a second opinion. I had Stage IIB Breast cancer. Don't be paranoid, but don't let doctors brush you off or rush you. There's a world of information out there in today's world - find out what you need to know so that YOU can make your own decisions. Sorry, I kinda get on my soap box about this subject!"
What wonderful women. This week is making me happy! :-) Tomorrow is another day to celebrate cancer survivors and their caregivers...
Remember, cancer SUCKS! You DO NOT want to find out how much. Take care of yourself.