Lynn Wilson’s Story: Sharing the Lessons of Her Husband’s Courageous Battle with Cancer to Improve the Practice of Care

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“The best way to honor my late husband is to teach the teachable moments, good and bad.”

On May 24th of 2005, Lynn’s husband, Lance, was told he had a malignant isolated cytoma in his left scapula.

image003Despite multiple radiation treatments, in February 2006, Lance was formally diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. After two stem cell transplants, he went into partial remission, but it did not last. After relapsing in 2008, Lynn and her husband knew the best option was to seek treatment with a world-renowned institute in Little Rock, and the family moved there from Chicago overnight.

Lance’s cancer was incredibly difficult to treat, but, Lynn recalls, “My husband was the most amazing man that encouraged all around him, other patients, nurses, physicians and staff across the board. He had an ability to create a bubble for himself and our family where the only thing that mattered was the present moment and we tried to have an adventure in the midst of a tragedy and strove to make life as normal as possible for our young son who was only four when we moved to Little Rock.”

During this time period, Lynn learned that she was Lance’s best advocate and that she had to anticipate the gaps in communication during his care, which were unavoidable in a busy clinic with so many moving parts. It was a hard fight, but by seeking treatment in Little Rock, Lynn’s family had an addition 3 1/2 years together, for which she is forever grateful.

image009Following Lance’s death in 2011, Lynn felt called to remain in Little Rock, where she entered a chaplain residency to become certified as a Hospital Chaplain. She continued to work for three years as a Patient Advocate for the hospital that treated Lance. “I felt it was my way of giving back.”

As a Hospital Chaplain and Patient Advocate, Lynn has been speaking about her family’s story, using the good and bad experiences to teach nursing and physician students, and healthcare providers, about patient-and-family-centered care.

My son attended a session where I spoke and at the end he said, ‘Mom, you made that doctor over there cry.’ By the smile on his face, it was obvious that my son gets ‘what I am doing.’ I am taking our trial and using it to ensure I am the voice of every other patient and family of the future and pushing for policy change AND as importantly as I speak to nursing and physician students I am embedding in their hearts the importance of the human connection in healthcare.”

 

Lynn hopes that telling the story of her husband’s battle with cancer, as well as the experiences the family shared during this time, will help impact the practice of healthcare. We thank her for sharing this journey with us for the 2017 PV Impact Awards.

The Impact Awards are less than a week away, but we still have more stories of courage to share in the coming days. Stay tuned.

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