Each year, the staff of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center coordinates "A Cancer Center Christmas," a buffet dinner and party for patients and families who must celebrate Christmas in the hospital.
A deep bond develops among the cancer center "family," as patients and the relatives and friends who support them make frequent trips for care during this crucial period in their lives. On the day after this year's Christmas celebration (2013), Peggy Torr, BSN, RN, OCN, a nurse who helped coordinate this year's celebration, sent an email that perfectly illustrates the warm and loving atmosphere created by these nurses, patient care technicians, unit secretaries, physicians and other staff. Torr noted that much credit should go to her colleague, Anita Meddin, R.N. who, over the years, helped organize the annual celebration and make it better each time.
We really hope that your holidays were merry and bright and time was well spent with family and friends. It was once again a wonderful effort by staff to make "A Cancer Center Christmas" a pleasant experience for our patients and their families. You continued to give the best of care to your patients both physically, emotionally and spiritually, and if you don't mind me saying so, we were having a lot of fun. We broke a few rules, with children of all ages celebrating with their families and staff singing and dancing in the halls.
The buffet generously donated by the Greenebaum Cancer Center was wonderfully received by our patients and their families. Shawntae and Kendra picked up the food from the kitchen, and with a little help, transformed the conference room into a beautiful buffet to be enjoyed by all. All the comforts of a holiday meal were there -- from the turkey to the pumpkin pie. The kitchen did a great job with preparation, while numerous family members donated home-made cookies to add to the holiday cheer. There was a real camaraderie between the patients, their families and friends that was pretty incredible. People were eating and talking in the buffet room and the area outside -- it was just wonderful.
Cassie, thanks for taking the lead and getting everyone excited about making the Christmas packages. Your effort collecting monies, and personally doing some shopping to help fill the packages was greatly appreciated. Once again we send a special thanks to all at your mom's church; the hand-crocheted items were just beautiful. Donna's gifts of crossword puzzles, pens, hand cream and more are always a hit and this year was no different. Add to that a few pieces of chocolate, a candy cane and eye masks (great idea!) and the packages were a huge success. Sherlyn, thanks for taking the lead in filling the packages. Great job!
With everyone now back to their rooms, the staff dressed in their Santa Caps, strange scarf's (handmade though they were) and holiday eye wear, then danced and sang through the halls as we delivered these, our tokens of good cheer. Photos were taken, and a few tears along the way... made for a very special Christmas Day.
A few special highlights include those patients and families who return year after year. The Beal family, treated 20 years ago, came as they do every year, with home-made cookies. The wife of Mr. J. Watts came with cupcakes and memories. I think the highlight for me was when the "Mayor," Jimmy Myrick, rolled onto the floor with mom and dad in tow carrying bags of goodies. He shared that when he was here as a patient, he was given a blanket. He said, "it just helped to make everything better." He, in turn, came with blankets and was able to hand deliver to each of our patients not only a blanket, but -- as only Jimmy could -- that big, beautiful smile and wishes for a Merry Christmas. What a breathe of fresh air, and the patients response to his visit.... priceless!
A family member shared this morning that after 90 days of hospitalization, and all that they have been through, that when they look back years from now, they will remember this Christmas day with us as being very special.
Best wishes for a health and happy New Year. Nobody does it like we do, you should all be very proud of the work you do and the loving care you provide. Where Hope is a Way of Life...You make a difference, everyday.