Mary Jane Stillwell was in the hospital on the day of her youngest son’s parents’ night football game, a game she surely didn’t want to miss. Thanks to the compassion of her nurses at UofL Hospital, they made it possible for Mary Jane to make the game when the odds were against her.
Mary Jane’s Story
Mary Jane was admitted to UofL Hospital for superior vena cava obstruction, a narrowing or blockage of the second largest vein in the body that moves blood from the upper half of the body to the heart. The condition is usually caused by cancer – Mary Jane has been fighting metastatic breast cancer since 2012.
Her 13-year-old son, Elam, is in his first year playing football at LaRue Co. Middle School. “Eighth grade parent night was coming up in just a few days, and he really wanted me to be there. It’s a really big deal to him and I didn’t want to disappoint him. But I told him it would be up the doctors,” she said.
During her stay, Mary Jane said the nurses on 6 South “went above and beyond to take care of me and my family.” When she asked for a pillow for her husband, David, they actually moved her to a bigger room with a pull out sofa, knowing they would be there the whole weekend and needed more than a chair to sleep in.
“I felt so much love and compassion from these people – from housekeeping, food service, transport. They wouldn’t just come in and do their jobs, they asked how I was feeling and asked if we needed anything,” she said.
The night before Mary Jane was scheduled to have a procedure she felt really anxious about it. “I was crying and nervous, but even at 2 a.m. my nurses checked on me and calmed my nerves. It felt like I was the only patient they had because they focused so much time on me.”
After the procedure the next day, Mary Jane said she immediately felt like she could breathe better. Meanwhile, her son kept asking when she would get to come home and if she was going to make it to his game for parent night. “My heart was breaking,” she said. “I didn’t know if I would get to go or not.”
The day before the game, Dr. Rebecca Redman, a medical oncologist, delivered the good news to Mary Jane. If all was going well the next day, she would get to go home.
But Mary Jane said her “heart sank” as it got later in the day and she wasn’t allowed to go home yet. “My husband left to go to the game and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. Him leaving meant I didn’t have a ride back home,” she said.
And getting home to Hodgenville, more than an hour drive from downtown Louisville, wouldn’t be easy or cheap without someone to pick her up.
When Dr. Redman gave her the OK to go home, Mary Jane expressed how disappointed she was about missing the game. Her nurse, Madelyn “Maddy” Parvin and discharge nurse Lauren Tilley, however, came in and told Mary Jane to be ready to go in 10 minutes.
“I rushed to get dressed and brushed my hair, but I still didn’t know how I was going to get home.”
Ten minutes later Transport knocked on her door and Mary Jane still had no clue how she was getting home.
The nurses told her, “We got you a cab. You go and be with your boy; you can’t disappoint him.” They gave her a voucher so it wouldn’t cost her anything.
“I was floored. This was my problem, not theirs. Getting a ride home to see my boy wasn’t a medical issue, it was a mom issue.”
Even the cab driver knew she needed to get home quick so she wouldn’t miss the game.
When she arrived at the game in Hodgenville it was half time. With tears streaming down her face, Mary Jane said, “Elam saw me, asked the coach if he could come see me and ran to give me the biggest, smelliest, sweatiest bear hug ever.”
That’s a moment the mom said she never wants to forget. “UofL Hospital made that happen. I am so blessed to be at such a caring facility. The nurses on 6 South, they rock that floor. Their momma and daughter instincts kicked in – they weren’t just nurses that day. My heart smiles when I think of UofL Hospital and the love and compassion they share.”
Mary Jane wishes to thank all of the nurses at UofL Hospital on 6 South who helped care for her and her family during her stay. The unit is an extension of UofL Brown Cancer Center. She specifically wants to recognize:
• Lauren Tilley – discharge nurse
• Madelyn “Maddy” Parvin – nurse
• JaMetra “Meme” Marks – patient care assistant
• Angela “Angie” Williams – night shift nurse