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More Than a Doctor's Stethoscope

Miss Colorado, I could recite endless ways your profession has helped me, and I applaud you for being the voice of your profession and for bringing it to a national platform. I hope that it is a major step in the right direction to remove the word "just" whenever anyone is speaking of being a nurse.
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Miss Colorado, I really enjoyed watching you compete in the Miss America pageant. It has been a long time since I have sat down to watch one, but I found myself settled down with my mother to see how it was going to be this year. Our favorite category is the talent competition, with the evening gown coming in as a close second.

The talent competition was particularly entertaining. I found myself moved, intrigued and touched by your choice to do a monologue about your experience as a nurse. Frankly, it was courageous of you to embrace your talent as a nurse and bring a voice to this hard-working and respectable profession. I always cringed a little when I have someone say "I'm just a teacher" or "I'm just a nurse." Those professions are cornerstones of our community, and it is disheartening to ever hear them described as being something of little, if any, value.

After a week, I am still trying to figure out how I and so many others "misconstrued" the statements made on "The View." I would like to think of myself as a forgiving person, but I am struggling with accepting the apology and letting go of my anger. In an effort to be constructive in handling my anger, I decided to write you and the nursing profession a letter of thanks and to clarify one point that you stated about your talent to Ellen Degeneres.

As an eight-year oncology patient, I owe nurses a huge debt of gratitude. When I was blind-sided at the age of 36 with a cancer diagnosis, it was a nurse who walked me and my sister to the car and reassured us and told us that she would be praying for me, that she loved me and that it was going to be fine. Thank you. My sister and I were in shock and that big hug that you gave the both of us meant a lot. It still brings the both of us comfort when we look back on that traumatic day.

Thank you for all of the times that you have cared for me even though I felt so gross and nasty and I did not have a shred of dignity left. You probably do not talk about those instances because it would embarrass me, as your patient. Nonetheless, whether it is projectile vomit or a dirty diaper, you kept a smile on your face and made it a priority to comfort and reassure me while cleaning me without hesitation, even when I wanted to run away from myself. You were able to attend to me without shaming me or making me feel less than a person, I am truly grateful.

I would like to thank you for providing a safe haven for me at the treatment center. When I am with my caretakers, who are normally family members, I often put on a brave face so they will not worry or become upset. When I come to the treatment center, however, I have confidence that I can place myself in your capable hands to take care of me and be as vulnerable as I need to be. If I have a meltdown and dissolve into tears, you have the heart to comfort me and the professionalism to balance handling my medical needs. You even know me well enough to anticipate my tears and take the extra time to give me a hug or hold my hand. While you have so many other responsibilities and patients to handle, you come to my rescue even if I am not your assigned patient, I am grateful.

Over the years, you have become like family to me. Whether it has been planning my wedding, publishing my first book, the death of my aunt or when my best friend from chemo passed away, I have been able to share my feelings with you and you have been physically and emotionally present. It takes a special type of person who is so devoted to their patients and profession to deal with such emotional weight and still perform a calling so well. I will never forget being in the hospital and being deathly ill just four weeks after my grandmother died and as fate would have it, the nurse who was caring for me was the very nurse who held my grandmother's hand as she transitioned from this life. My heart was still breaking and I was agonizing over whether my grandmother suffered in her last moments. Your words of comfort calmed and comforted me at such a vulnerable time in my life.

Your wearing a "doctor's stethoscope" has been questioned; however, I remember when a nurse and her stethoscope was the turning point in my recovery from having a cancerous tumor removed from my colon. For almost three weeks, I wasted away in the hospital unable to eat or drink and in constant and excruciating pain. One night, my nurse came into my room, listened to my stomach, and used the white board in the room to explain to me and my mother at what point I should be in my recovery and how I was declining. Based on her observations, she called the doctor to recommend additional tests which led to them finding out what was truly wrong. It meant the world to me to have my nurse do so much more than administer medication, but to also use her experience and knowledge to help me. I feel that it is one of the many times over the years a nurse has saved my life. Thank you so much.

Miss Colorado, I could recite endless ways your profession has helped me, and I applaud you for being the voice of your profession and for bringing it to a national platform. I hope that it is a major step in the right direction to remove the word "just" whenever anyone is speaking of being a nurse. Very respectfully, Miss Colorado, I would like to reemphasize one thing to you. Being a nurse is more than a talent; it is a blessing and a gift. So, on behalf of myself and so many others you have cared for, please know that you have my utmost gratitude and respect.

Forever grateful,

Sherri