Ever since I can remember, I have had a passion for things with a heart beat… as a little girl I always found my self taking care of something, saving chipmunks and rabbits from my cats, even snakes and lizards when I had to! In 2006 my Mom was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast cancer and I quickly became her helper. I would attend appointments, help her after surgery, and I even got to shave her head during her chemo treatments! We made the most of it. It was then I quickly realized I wanted to be a cancer nurse when I grew up. With my moms diagnoses and some genetic testing, we came to find out my mother was a carrier of the genetic mutation BRCA2, also know as “the breast cancer gene”. Fast forward some years, my sister was tested, and found to be a carrier of the BRCA2 gene as well. Those who carry this gene are put at a greatly higher risk of developing breast cancer at a young age than those without it, so that being said my sister then made the choice to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. Once again I found myself as a caregiver, drains, doctors appointments and more. Fast forward again, two years later I found myself in the same position as my sister… BRCA2 positive….. time for surgery…. Here I am the one that is usually the caregiver, and now has become the one being taken care of. At this point I was 110% positive that God put me on this earth to be a nurse. So that’s what I did, fast forward once again I am a Registered nurse at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in Newnan, GA. This is my dream job! I finally made it. Within my first month at CTCA I met Stoney and BJ, it was love at first laugh! I knew from the beginning we would be peas in a pod! Time went on and we grew closer. BJ would bring us snacks, pizza after my shift, we would have “comedy hour” every evening and make jokes, laughing until we sometimes cried at anything and everything you could imagine. From the day I met Stoney, until the day of his passing, he was smiling. I would walk in every shift with handfuls of pills for him to swallow and he would greet me…. “Hello beautiful.” He was always smiling. As I watched him grow more sick in the last couple of months… I would sometimes Think to myself…. “Will he ever lose his joy??” The pain, the drains, the tubes and wires… his legs so swollen he could hardly move them, but He never lost his joy, never stopped smiling, never stopped rejoicing. The last few weeks when Stoney really began to decline things got tough for all of the nurses on the floor, and even the family. But that was when it hit me… I realized this was my assignment. My task from God. He took someone’s else’s suffering, and forever changed me, forever blessed me. Cancer and I have a love/hate relationship…. You see, I hate cancer…. But a part of me can not help but be thankful for it.. cancer has made me who I am. It’s been in my life as long as I can remember. I have learned more from it than most could imagine. If not for cancer I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I wouldn’t have met Stoney. Although, I would have done anything in this world to take away his suffering, I can’t imagine going through life and never knowing him. It’s hard to put into words what my time taking care of Stoney really taught me, and the emotion that overwhelmed me when he passed. That morning I wanted to leave, I wanted to go home and bury my face in my pillows and cry. In one room we prepared his body for the funeral home, and in the next rooms down were several more patients to be take care of. Some happy with great news, some sad, some angry. It is tough learning to juggle so many emotions, when all I wanted to do was shut down. That’s when I though to myself…. “What would Stoney want me to do?”…. One thing he taught me was how to be resilient…. How to bend but not break… how to keep your joy and continue to serve others even when you are suffering yourself. So that is what I did.
As much as we grieved on earth we also rejoiced. Rejoiced in the life long friendships that had been made, the blessings that were brought to us through the pain, and most of all rejoiced in the fact that our Stoney was in heaven. I think of Stoney everyday, and I miss him dearly. but I know I will see my friend again, and he will greet me with a big smile and a “hello beautiful.” Until then, I will be here on earth, taking care of my many patients … some similar to Stoney… but never anyone quite like him. My heart is forever changed because of Stone Mountain Dartt. I will continue to do my work in his honor, staying resilient and rejoicing in everyday, and I’m proud to serve on the Nurses Advisory Panel for Moving Mountains Ministries that was created in his honor!