Peace Amid the Fear of Cancer

I was paralyzed with fear before starting chemotherapy, but one oncology nurse helped me feel at ease.

By Lynda Rice

I was 52 years old when I received a diagnosis of breast cancer. It was the ride that was chosen for me, and I couldn’t get off, no matter how much I wished it away. It was one doctor after the next, and life was consumed with appointments.

Then it was time to begin chemotherapy. I was paralyzed with fear because this poison was going to run through my body and damage many things in its path yet help me to live. I had heard many terrifying stories of other people’s experiences and reactions to chemotherapy, and now it was my turn.

I walked into the infusion center trembling, feeling alone and fearful. But I found peace in the smile of my chemotherapy nurse, Megha Shah. She could tell just how darn scared I was. I explained my fears of all of this and of needles. I told her I could not look no matter what and to make sure I didn’t pass out.

She held my hand and told me in the most reassuring voice that she would not let that happen. She brought me water and a warm blanket, and we were off on this adventure. I trusted her every step of the way. I found an amazing sense of security going to see her. She was a fount of knowledge and was able to answer every single question I threw at her. She never made me feel as though I was a bother or that she was in a rush.

She always made sure I was eating and drinking, and she brought me snacks and water because she knew I probably wasn’t telling her the entire truth about my diet. She would make me laugh a lot, too, which, in this situation, can be rather difficult. I never had any family member or friend with me when I went to my treatments, but Megha was there, and she was my rock. She would hold me up when I felt broken, and I trusted her with my tears when I was vulnerable.

Megha showed me kindness and compassion in so many little ways she probably doesn’t even realize. It was everything from bringing me water to sitting next to me for a few minutes and connecting with me to find out how I really was. It was comforting to be with her.

She still answers every silly question I have. She cares so deeply for her patients — you can see it in her eyes. She works and studies hard on top of raising a family. She is dedicated to helping patients and walks with them through their chemotherapy journey, no matter how difficult or heartbreaking it may be. She takes great pride in her work, and her compassion is humbling.

As I think of the blessings in my life, I can honestly be thankful that through this horrible disease Megha came into my life. She has lifted me up so many times I have lost count. I do not know what I would have done without her. I’ll never know how to properly thank her for being part of the team that saved my life. I tell her every time I am at the cancer center how grateful I am for her. She has made a profound impact on my life, showing me how someone can care so much about a patient.

I never doubted that I mattered to her. Megha deserves to be honored as an Extraordinary Healer® because that is the perfect definition of everything she is.

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