Some things in life are stupid. Like cancer. But even things that shouldn’t exist can provide a gateway for kindness.
That’s what Becki, from Aberdeen, S.D., found out when she got the news her cancer was back.
“In May of 2019 I had to have a skin graft at Mayo Clinic due to my second melanoma diagnosis. Surgery was a success and all was good until spring of 2020 when I found spots again. I completed 21 treatments of radiation which killed the cancer but left an open wound on my leg. In the midst of COVID, I needed to go back for another surgery.
"We found out the day of surgery that my husband was unable to stay as my one visitor for the eight days I’d be in the hospital.
"We were both devastated, but we understood.
"Now it was just the nursing staff and me. I had one particular nurse, Pete, who was assigned to me for many of the days of my stay.
"He introduced himself, and I thought, ‘Whoa this kid looks like he’s still in high school.’ I was having doubts about the care I would receive. I was wrong.
"Knowing we couldn’t have visitors, Pete popped his head in even when I didn’t press the call light. He’d just ask if I needed anything or remind me to drink my water. He was always asking what else he could do for me.
"Pete would often tell a story to make me laugh and I got to know a little bit about him. He was 22 and a recent nursing graduate. I could tell bedside manner was his specialty. He effortlessly worked to make a genuine connection.
"On the day before I was to be released, Pete brought me a pink balloon (that he found at the nurses' station). In Pete fashion, he tossed it over the curtain into my room just to make me laugh. He wasn’t assigned to me that day unfortunately, but he said he’d stop by when his shift ended.
"I fell asleep and woke at 3 in the morning. My first thought was, ‘Shoot, I didn’t get to say goodbye.’ I was sad and kind of heartbroken as I wanted to say thank you to him.
"I reached for my glasses and found a piece of paper under them. I turned on my light so I could see what it was. Pete had stopped by, let me rest, but left me a note wishing me well in my recovery. Seriously it was one of the kindest things. It really touched me.
"So here’s to all the Nurse Petes — thank you for going above and beyond to make this mom feel cared for while I recovered. And to Pete’s parents — you raised a great human! He’s already doing great things... and he’s only 22."
The world needs more Nurse Petes. Maybe you and I can give a big smile to someone today and be one.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.