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I’ve worked with many clients, including survivors of burns, traumas, spinal cord injuries and amputations. When I first meet them, they are dealing with the emotional and physical challenges of living fulfilling lives. They want to be parents, workers and friends. All these goals represent different levels of physical and functional challenges. This is where my role begins.

Often the first thing I ask clients is, “what are the top five things you want to be able to do?” Their answers are often the simple daily activities many of us take for granted. I analyze the challenge and work with them to find the solutions.

One client, whose arm was amputated, wanted to be able to play pool with his friends again. I helped tailor his prosthesis with a special device so he could hold a cue stick properly. We played pool together as part of his rehabilitation, which was a profound experience for both of us.

Even though I am able-bodied, I always put on a prosthesis when training a new client. Using the same hook or device my client is using really helps me understand their world and the challenges they face. When they see me achieve the task with my prosthesis, they know it’s possible and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s truly a great bridge between us.

I treat a thank-you card from clients as a humbling reminder that I’m on the right track. I owe so much to them as well. Seeing people rise above adversity has taught me to overcome my own stumbling blocks, and be grateful forwhat I have. – As told to Monica Matys

the CANCER NURSE
I KNOW I MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Lisa Verity is a nurse navigator at the Marion C. Soloway Breast Rapid Diagnostic Unit in Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. Her career in nursing spans over three decades, with a focus on breast health and screening for the past 23 years.

In 1984, my sister-in-law Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer. I saw first-hand how she struggled not only with the disease, but with gaps in the health-care system. Carol passed away 10 years later, but she remains a huge inspiration in my life and my career to this day.

In my current role, I see hundreds of women every year who have had a suspicious finding in their breast, and don’t know if they are facing cancer or not. They come here to find answers during an incredibly stressful time and need a great deal of support.

I help guide them from the time I receive their referral. I help assure them about the direction they need to take once their tests are done. The Rapid Diagnostic Unit is a leading model for care because it provides next-day diagnosis and personalized screening recommendations. I hear similar comments from nearly every woman I see in the unit. They just need to know!

While my role as a nurse navigator can be emotionally challenging at times, I know that I make a big difference in the lives of many women. This is what keeps me going. Recently, one of my patients passed away, someone very dear to my heart. As a longstanding Sunnybrook donor, the plan was to put her name on one of the rooms in the new Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre. I was completely shocked when I got a call from Sunnybrook Foundation, telling me she wanted a room named after me instead. It was such a moving gesture that reinforced that the work I do as a nurse does matter.

It’s an unbelievable honour to make a difference in someone’s life. That’s the reason I do what I do.

- As told to Monica Matys

the ER NURSE
RIGHT TIME,  RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT PERSON

Danielle King is a registered nurse and Clinical Care Leader in Sunnybrook’s emergency department where she has worked for five years. Recently, Danielle was awarded a citizen award from Durham Regional Police for saving the life of a man who had a heart attack behind the wheel of his car at an intersection in Ajax, Ont. 

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