Finally, I Say Thank You

It’s taken three years, but I finally wrote the email I’ve been thinking about writing for a long long time.  I finally said thank you.

I could reiterate here what I said, but I think I’ll just post the letter I wrote.  If there are people out there in helping professions, know that you make a difference.  Know those kind words, smiles, and care, mean so much to the people you are working with.  I’m so very grateful.

A caveat… I used everyone’s real name in the actual email.  I just didn’t want to use them here.  This isn’t the most eloquent I’ve ever been, and reading it through I’d already change some things.  I guess that’s probably because there really are no words adequate enough to convey the depth of my gratitude and emotion.

Nancy…

 I’ve been wanting to write this email for some time.  I’m sending it to you because you were always my go to contact person.  No matter what the situation, you were there.
Today I had my 9 month post maintenance check up with my oncologist here in Illinois.  Everything was great, blood work great, etc.  Every time I go in I think to myself I should write to you, and hopefully if you can pass this on, to a few other people… Dr. B, the nurses and staff in the infusion area, that first doctor at urgent care, S and T in the lab, the ladies at the front desk, and anyone else who might have come in contact with me during my treatment.
In case you don’t remember… my name is Tam, my partner is K.  I was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia in June of 2010.  I went into urgent care on June 1 and met a wonderful doctor, I think his name was EM, who treated me with such kindness and care, even taking a moment, as they were loading me into the ambulance, to come over, look me in the eye, and wish me good luck.  He didn’t have to do that as he was moving on to other patients at urgent care, but he did.  I entered the hospital, and if you could pass this on to them as well I’d be eternally grateful, had my first bone marrow biopsy and a transfusion on June 2, was diagnosed on June 3, and was there for a month, discharging on July 1 after a few more transfusions, tests, and my first round of major chemo.  I went back into the hospital for a week in July and again for a week in August, both times for the next rounds of chemo, and then for a week in September when I ended up with a neutropenic fever.  I did my last two pushes of chemo outpatient, on September 16 and 17 (I only remember the dates because my last push was on my 45th birthday), at the infusion center at Interstate.  I then started on maintenance treatment in October 2010.  Every week, for maintenance, I went in for blood draws and a weekly shot.  I was also taking medications orally, but that was on my own.  I spent a lot of time at the infusion center and in the lab.  I continued treatment until I moved to Illinois in August 2011.  I finished my second year of maintenance treatment here, using the same protocol Dr. B set up and I’d been following in Oregon.  And as I said, I just had my quarterly visit with my Illinois oncologist.  Basically the 9 month visit since completion of maintenance.  I’m doing great.  It’s been just about three years since it started.  Amazing.
The reason I’m writing is because I want to say thank you.  And in writing that I don’t think I’m fully expressing the level of gratitude I have for all the nurses, both in the hospital and the infusion center, you, the ladies in the lab, Dr. B, and the other staff including CNA’s, medical assistants, the people who delivered food to me at the hospital, the people who cleaned my room at the hospital, all the techs who performed one test or another on me, and probably countless others I’m forgetting.  I get emotional when I think about this, and actually have tears running down my face right now.  Not out of sadness, but from that deep sense of gratitude I mentioned earlier.
I know every day all of you go to work, then go home to your own lives and your own families.  I know that you’re human so some days at work are harder than others because life is like that, and on top of that the work you do is also difficult.  Dealing with people, every day, who are very sick and scared and hurting.  It’s a huge burden to carry, yet I felt, every time I spoke to you, or Dr. B, or a nurse in the infusion center, the ladies in the lab, and on and on, that I was always heard.  I found so much grace and hope and comfort in that.  I was, time after time, so impressed with the treatment I received and with the humanity in which that treatment was delivered.  And not only did you all treat me well, but you treated K well.  She stayed with me the entire time I was in the hospital and everyone was always so warm and gracious to her.  And then, after, when we were coming in to the infusion center, and every time you talked to her on the phone, she was treated with respect and care.  All of that made, and still makes, a huge impact on my life.  I am blessed to have met you Nancy, and blessed to have met Dr. B and all those lovely lovely nurses I came in contact with on this journey.  I want you, and Dr. B, and all those others, to know how much I appreciate you, and them.  I want you to know that just those little bits of kindness, bits you probably weren’t even aware you were giving and showing, made such a difference to me.  I want you to know that I am so thankful to still be here, and more than that to be healthy and happy and leading a great life.  I have the life I do because I was lucky enough to have all of you come into my life when you did.  What you all do makes a huge difference.  You might not realize this, it might not occur to you on a daily basis, but it does.  It made a huge difference to me.
There aren’t enough words to express the feeling I have when I think of all of you.  You will all, for the rest of my life, be in my heart.  And the memory of what felt like warm hugs for my soul from all of you, through a little smile here or a little comment or laugh there, while I was going through something terrifying and horrible, will be with me forever.  What you all do makes a difference, a huge difference, in people’s lives.  I can’t say that enough.  So when the day is hard, or bad, or long, please remember that there’s at least one person, two if you count K, who is out here thanking you, and wishing for all of you every good thing that can be imagined.
K and I still live in Illinois, though we miss Oregon very much, and are happily very involved in our grandchildren’s lives.  We have two now, both boys.  The youngest, Dominic, is just two months old, the oldest, Sebastian, nearly three, calls me Gamma Tam.  Isn’t that the best?
Again, my best to you, and a wish for every good thing for you….     Tamra

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