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An Army Nurse

July 12th, 2008 3 comments

On 7 July, Stephie had her 45th birthday in San Antonio, managing to spend time with family and friends. She was also saying her good-byes. On the 9th she died after more than a four year battle with ovarian cancer. Medically retired last year with 18 years in service, Stephanie had survived numerous deployments, a severe head injury and an intermittently less than competent medical system.

There are those in life who seem to sail along, never touched by anything: those for whom everything in life always works out. Stephie was not one of those people. Her sardonic sense of humor and ability to face pain, the absurd, and idiot army leadership weren’t matched by anyone that I know. She overcame everything in her path by hard work and sheer determination. She was never an eager warrior, but she always did her job and did it well understanding that the welfare of patients under her care as a nurse anesthetist always came first. I had the honor and pleasure of serving with her, to call her colleague and friend.

She completed at least 4 rounds of chemo, each lasting more than 6 months. She under went multiple surgeries to no avail and an experimental protocol for intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemo which resolved many of her symptoms and gave her a decent quality of life for the last 6 months. Unfortunately her overall tumor burden was too great and she was fighting a long slow nutritional war of attrition.

Many friends whose path she had crossed flew in to say their goodbyes in person. Her mother and brothers were able to see her that week as well. She had a strong desire to live and only stopped chemo a few weeks ago, with just enough remaining time for everyone to see her one last time.

Her 45th birthday was on the 7th. Our mutual good friends who were there said she was able to sit up and joke with everyone for almost an hour.

The majority of funds from her estate will be given to a GYN-ONC clinical chair at MD Anderson. Cremated, half of her ashes will be interred at the US National Cemetery in San Antonio , the other half with her father’s in Heidelberg .

Her courage and honor were secondary to no one I know. She is sorely missed by her friends.

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