Virginia “Jennie” Rudd, RN, MS, NP-C, AOCN®, is an oncology nurse practitioner who worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and NYU Clinical Cancer Center and is now a full-time student in a Post-Master's Certificate Program at Columbia University School of Nursing in the Nurse Anesthesia Program. She writes that although she is still a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and keeps up to date in the field by reading and attending seminars, she decided to take a break from oncology after the unexpected and untimely death of her mother.
''My Mom, Martha Rudd, was a lifetime never-smoker—only minimal exposure to second-hand smoke— who was diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC (squamous) in April 2004. I took a family leave of absence to spend time with her in Alabama since I live in New York City. It was strange being on the other side of the bed (so to speak); surreal in fact. I had heard so many patients say, ‘I can't believe this is happening to me,’ but, unfortunately, we know that cancer is no respecter of persons.
''The next two months were a blur, and I promised myself I'd write about my feelings when it was over. Ten days after I arrived in Alabama, Mom became paraplegic from spinal cord compression, and there was so much pain from the bony metastases to the ribs and femur heads. She remained hopeful though. Her deeply-rooted spirituality allowed her to continue to pray and minister to other's needs while she was fighting the biggest battle of her life.
''I just became involved with symptom management (pain control was the number one priority). Mom's doctors and nurses in Alabama were extremely compassionate to her and to our family. She underwent palliative radiation therapy to the spinal cord lesion and had a three-week cycle of weekly Taxol with Carboplatin on Week one, but it was over quickly (June 2004).
''I finally ‘penned’ some of my feelings in this poem, written during an intense moment when I was overcome by hurt and wanted so much to see my mom, my best friend, again. Cancer research is so important, and I can truthfully report (from the other side of the fence) that Oncology caregivers mean so much to patients and families during times of crisis. Now, when I read about lung cancer, it's more than just words on a page. There's a face staring back at me.
My name, you ask?
I'm just me.
yet surrounded by so many others…
waiting for the seasons to change.
It seems only yesterday
when Spring enchanted my soul
with a most beautiful color:
Green, and the world was alive,
but like a kitten with eyes still closed.
Now Summer is winding down,
and choreography is carefully calculated.
A tacit awareness that Autumn is near.
Change is inevitable or so it seems.
When will my turn come?
History shares with us
the legends of many souls;
names that burn eternal.
Inspiring us to run the race:
hoping for victory; reaching for love.
There is a name, known to few,
but loved by all she touched.
A wildflower among the grass;
yet taken by an early Winter's frost.
Undazed, she whispered, “No regrets.”
Grass won't grow to cover that patch;
vainly hoping that she'll return.
Transplanted, she called it.
We'll meet again; where Spring is eternal.
May the Lord watch o'er me and thee
while we are absent one from another,
and let me bloom before Winter knocks;
savoring daily the lessons I learned
from a unique flower named Martha.