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Family MembersPatient StoriesSurvivorship

A Husband's Letter

A touching letter from Paul Smyth, to nurse navigator Marian Gilmore, RN, OCN, who cared for his wife.
June 2015 Vol 1 No 3
Marian E. Gilmore, RN, OCN
Nurse Navigator
Multi-Specialty Clinic Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital
South Weymouth, MA

November 22, 2013

Dear Marian,

I first want to apologize to you for taking this considerable time to communicate with you after Barbara’s passing. I do believe that, if anyone, you will understand the reasons completely. It is still very difficult to speak, write, or even think of Barbara in the past tense. We have come to understand that our feelings are completely normal and that only time will allow us to live with her loss.

The last two weeks after Barbara was released from the hospital, her condition steadily declined. She did not actually lose consciousness until her last 24 hours. She wanted to see all her loved ones and old friends during her last 2 weeks so that she could say goodbye face to face, and we managed to do that. As always, she accepted her fate, never complained, and was strong for all of us.

I feel sure that we, along with hospice oversight, managed to keep Barbara comfortable right until the end, and that her mind was separated from the distress that her body was experiencing, and was so very visually disturbing to all of us.

I believe that our family did a great job of taking care of her through the period of her illness. I know that we were prepared to accept her death, but we never realized how devastating the loss of her presence in our daily lives would be. Life will never be the same for my family and me.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we know that even with our great loss this past year, we have received many blessings. Among these blessings was the wonderful relationship that you offered and Barbara embraced during her time as a patient. Marian, it was very gratifying to us that she developed such an open, honest, and friendly relationship with you, as Barbara needed someone outside of the family to confer with on matters in which she needed confirmation or direct answers. We thank you for your support, affection, and your endearing qualities.

Marian, in closing, my family and I want you to know we view you as the most important support factor during Barbara’s treatment at Dana-Farber. You played a major role in her determination to fight for every day of life that she could win, and helped her fully understand all of the issues that this battle contained.

I feel that someday in the future, when my family is strong enough, we will meet again. Until that time, thank you, and God bless you.

Paul Smyth and family

To read nurse navigator Marian Gilmore's story on her relationship with Mrs. Smyth, click here

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Last modified: October 5, 2017

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