For the past few months, I have been working on implementing the UCF Patient Navigation program at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC for short). Along the way, I have gotten to know many wonderful nurses, oncology support staff members, and many young cancer patients. This past Wednesday was a really great day for me at GBMC and if you keep reading, you’ll know why….
My first day at GBMC was a blur of meeting people, getting settled, and working through the referrals that were already on my desk. It was a little overwhelming but in a good way. That first day I met a patient who I have now been helping for the past several months. Her story was very similar to many other young adults who get diagnosed. She lives in NYC and never had any symptoms at all. She had been working out and thought this new lump was a muscle but her parents urged her to get it checked out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t muscle but cancer.
Fast forward to three weeks after her initial diagnosis and she is back in Baltimore living with her parents as she undergoes treatment. She has taken a 4 month break from work and has completely put her NYC life on hold. She has left her friends and come to stay with her family that have given her tremendous support. When I met her that first day, she was very closed off and just gearing up to “do what I need to do”.
Over the next few weeks, she warmed up to me and we began talking every week about anything and everything. We talked about the possibility of losing her hair and about her fears. We discussed how to talk with friends and about how to get back into living her life. I sent her NYC resources for young adults and resources for Baltimore while she was here living with her parents.
This past Wednesday was her last day of chemo. She is doing phenomenal and starts radiation next week but up in NYC. It was really special for me to watch her ring the bell outside after she was finished. She was the first patient who was referred to me on my first day. Being able to be there for her whole GBMC experience was an amazing feeling and I can’t wait for the next patient to be able to ring the bell.