I recently saw an article in the Ashburn Patch titled, “Inova Plans Bedside Wedding for Dying Patient’s Daughter,” and knew I should probably pull out the tissues before reading further. And I was right, for once again, our Inova team pulled together to make it possible for a patient dying from pancreatic cancer with only days to live, to see his only daughter get married.
Mr. Bill Malone had been a patient on the oncology unit at ILH for quite a while. During his time there, the staff had gotten to know not only Mr. Malone, but the entire family, including his wife, Francie, their daughter, Dori, and Dori’s fiancé, Jim O’Sullivan. The nurses, techs and physicians enjoyed hearing about the wedding plans for Dori and Jim that were to take place on June 4th. After Mr. Malone’s latest stint in the hospital, which lasted more than a month, he was released to a rehab facility. Unfortunately though, he contracted pneumonia and was readmitted in May. The staff then had the sad task of informing the family that Mr. Malone would not live to see the wedding.
They brainstormed, came up with a plan and asked the family if they would consider a hospital wedding. In two days, the team learned how to be wedding planners. April Brown, PCD, and Kathy Wright, Oncology Clinical Specialist, with help from Selena Brown, RN, and Beth Guzzetta, Clin Tech, organized and decorated. Gloria Andrzejewki, RN, brought champagne for the couple, balloons and wedding bells. Amanda Korn, RN, sang a Shania Twain song, “From This Moment,” Najat Chemlali from Food Services ordered a wedding cake and hors d’oeuvres for the reception and Charlene Martin from Community Affairs took photos.
I mentioned before that we are so much more then our job titles. Charlene works in Community Affairs and fills in as a photographer, but she also pitched in to help Virginia Moore of chaplaincy services on this special wedding day. During the “I now present to you husband and wife” portion of the ceremony, Charlene and others witnessed a near comatose man raise his hands and clap three times. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
It is a spiritual axiom that when we give, we receive way more than that which we gave. Amanda Korn, who was Mr. Malone’s primary oncology nurse for the last seven or so years, said that this event was her most rewarding day as a nurse. Amanda said it was awesome to see all the disciplines come together to pitch in and help in any way they could.
And that’s what our Inova teams do so well every day. I’ve heard similar stories over the years and am always grateful for the reminder of the lessons learned with each one. Our best caregivers (and we are all caregivers) know that we don’t just take care of a patient; we take care of the entire family – physically, mentally and spiritually. Thanks to this team, Dori could have her father at her wedding and provide him with the knowledge that he could now leave this place knowing all is well. Bill Malone passed the next day.