From the desk of Kerry Milton...
My story of survival.
The past year of my life has been a frightening and extraordinary journey for me and my family. I would like to take this opportunity to share it with you now. For the past 28 years, I have been an employee of St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Beginning my career at STPH as a registered nurse, I became Chief Nursing Officer in 2000 and most recently in 2009… a patient.
In January of last year, after a routine mammogram at our Breast Center, I returned for a breast MRI on the recommendation of my radiologist and the MRI confirmed a small mass. The next step was a breast biopsy. To my dismay, the results revealed invasive lobular breast cancer. The cancer was at an early stage with a good prognosis for recovery and I soon began treatment which included three complex surgical procedures and a course of chemotherapy.
Following the devastating “you have cancer” phone call, I contacted the Hospital’s Cancer Resource Center. In my opinion, knowledge is power and I wanted to know everything to prepare myself. I began a one-on-one session of “chemo school” with a nurse practitioner to help me prepare for the treatment, including the emotional trauma of losing my hair. Visits to our chemotherapy infusion suite were likewise reassuring and gave me a unique perspective on the work of our very specialized chemo nurses. When I had an adverse reaction during a chemotherapy session, they knew precisely and immediately what to do. I was in excellent hands.
Our Operating Room staff are “unsung heroes” for the special attention they gave me before, during and after each of my procedures. The surgical team’s efforts to protect and preserve my dignity and keep my family informed provided me with a welcome sense of calm, as did the exemplary skills of the surgeons who performed my procedures. I completed the last chapter of treatment this summer with a number of final cosmetic steps to restore my body’s appearance.
During my many months of treatment, I came in contact with so many caring and compassionate employees, physicians and volunteers. Nurses and nutritionists provided guidance on foods that could boost my well-being during and after those draining chemotherapy sessions. Genetic counseling at the Cancer Resource Center assured me that I do not carry a genetic marker which could put my daughter and son at an elevated risk of a similar diagnosis. It is not possible to tell you about all of these special people. But I will never forget them.
Until I was involved on a personal level as a patient, I could have never begun to understand the depth and breadth of the care given daily at STPH. We are so fortunate to have such excellent healthcare in St. Tammany Parish delivered right here, close to home. It was never necessary for me to go a long distance away from the unsurpassed support system of my caregivers, family and friends to obtain world-class cancer care. My journey is not over. I will continue to seek the expertise of our community caregivers as I support others with this diagnosis and funding for patient navigators to steer them through their journeys.
Will you please consider a tax-deductible gift to the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation? Our Hospital is a not-for-profit organization and receives no government or parish funding. Every gift from every individual is absolutely vital. Your gift will keep the hospital on the cutting edge of care, not only for breast cancer patients, but for all patients. Your support will allow you to rest easy, knowing that when a health crisis does come your way, the best care is always right here at home. Your donation can and will support continued growth at the Hospital.
As a member of the Hospital’s senior leadership team, it is my pleasure to share with you some the exciting new developments designed to expand technology and services for our patients on the Northshore:
- The Hospital will open a new Women’s Pavilion in 2011. In this 9,500 square foot facility, services will be delivered in a serene setting which utilizes healing arts. The center will offer digital mammography and provide space for outpatient services such as breast MRI, weight-management consultations, bone density screenings and physical therapy. Plans are being made to introduce a nurse navigator to our existing cancer program. This nurse will guide and support cancer patients on their journeys through cancer care.
- The Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center will relocate to the newly constructed Charles A. Fredrick Jr. Medical Office Complex located directly across from the Hospital. Mary Bird Perkins’ established success with radiation services, in concert with the Hospital’s outpatient infusion therapy services and Cancer Resource Center, will provide patients with a wealth of local resources for cancer care.
- In October 2010, the Hospital opened a new outpatient surgery center in our Medical Office Complex. This clinical care area, the Covington Surgery Center, offers expanded surgical capabilities and capacity. In addition, our desire to expand the existing Emergency Department is in the planning stages. The expansion will assist the Hospital in meeting the needs of our ever-growing population including our littlest patients, pediatric patients with medical emergencies. And although plans are not final, the delivery of comprehensive Pediatric Care, including a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, is in concept development.
Thank you in advance for doing your part to support cancer care and the myriad of other healthcare services and programs provided by St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Because of your generosity, STPH will continue to be there for you, for your friends, for each of us, when we most need it.
Kerry Milton, RN, BSN, MSHA
Senior Vice President Chief Nursing Officer, STPH
Wife, Mother and Cancer Survivor
To make a donation to the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation, click here.