Marilyn is a registered nurse who has cared for dozens of cancer patients in her career. The hardest cancer patient she ever took care of was her own niece, Pam. The diagnosis at age 2 occurred while Pam was staying with her Aunt Marilyn. Pam went through difficult treatments for three years, losing her childhood to hospitalization and drugs. When Pam didn’t feel well, Marilyn would sing to her, which was the smallest thing she could do to bring some joy back to the little girl’s life. Losing Pam was extremely hard for the family, especially her sisters and Marilyn’s young daughter. Through Pam’s fight and the many other family members affected by cancer, Marilyn has stayed strong by placing her hope in Jesus.
I have a lot of nieces and nephews. The thing about this little girl is that, from the day she was born, she was so much more special to every aunt and uncle and cousin than any of the other kids had ever been. And I feel like God provided her in five years with as much or more love than maybe all of us will ever get in our lives, and I’m so grateful for that.
It’s perfectly okay to sit down with a cancer patient at any age and if they feel like crying, just cry with them. On the other hand, if they want to do something to completely avoid thinking about what’s going on, do it with them. Arrange anything you can that will be joyful to them, any wishes they had – I always wish I could have done this or that – make it happen.
He’s my savior and my Lord and He is my strength. It’s okay if I cry with Him, and it’s okay if I even get mad with Him sometimes. I used to say, “Yeah I know there’re a lot of other little girls in the world dying with cancer, but why can’t You save Pam?”, but that wasn’t in the plan. It was okay because He’s in charge; I’m not.
Dr. Adams gave a lecture, and he said that the definition of a nurse is one who cares for the sick and the infirm. He looked at us all, and he said, “If you cannot care with your heart, but just with your head or your hands, there’s the door.” I’ll never forget that. I’ve been in nursing almost 59 years, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Brenda Schreiner Rockville, IL
Mark Zimmer Champaign, IL