When Amber went in the hospital that Friday evening in November, we began several nights of no sleep. The two nights she was inpatient at Rapides, I slept in the bed with her. Picture this, a grown woman in a large baby bed made of metal. Yes, that was me. No sleep the first night because I was in a baby bed. No sleep the second night because my daughter had cancer (and I was still in a baby bed). No sleep on that Sunday night because we were packing and then driving to Memphis. So, imagine three adults, myself, my ex-husband and my sis-in-law, all in an examining room after three nights of no sleep.
Let me set the stage a little more for you. Here we are in the examining room after no sleep. We have finally made it to the hospital after being lost in Memphis for a couple of hours. We have absolutely no idea what to expect to happen next. We are trying to entertain a 1 year old in a hospital room. This one year old has slept all night in the vehicle so she is full of energy (we are not!). The door opens and in walks the doctor. She is all smiles. Our first look at her we see bright red hair with bright red makeup and a huge smile on her face. Of course, we are not sure what to think…a smiling doctor at a cancer hospital?!?!
The doctor introduces herself to us, Dr. Patrica Shearer. She is as nice as can be as she introduces herself. She looks at Jeff (Amber’s dad) and says, “you must be dad” and looks at me and says, “You must be mom.” She then turns to my sister-in-law, who is Jeff’s brother’s wife, and says with a huge smile, “and you must be grandma!” Tammy looks at me and it is all that we can do to hold in our laughter, the pseudo-delirium starting to set in. Of course, we correct her that Tammy is Amber’s aunt and not her grandmother. It doesn’t faze Dr. Shearer at all, she just rolls with it.
After examining Amber and telling us more of what to expect over the next few days, Dr. Shearer prepares to leave. She is still smiling as she opens the door and gives us her parting words for the day. “Your baby. Will. Be. Fine,” she says with her big smile and her high-voiced clipped way of speaking. As she turned and went out the door, Tammy and I had held it in as long as we could and dissolved into laughter. Many times since then we have wondered exactly what Dr. Shearer thought of us as she surely heard the laughter outside that examining room door.
Sometimes you are so tired that no matter the situation you can find the humor in life. Sometimes you break into laughter at the most inappropriate times. We blamed delirium even though it was simply exhaustion. It remains one of my best and fondest memories from those dark days.
As for Dr. Shearer, we absolutely loved her for the years that she was Amber’s physician at St. Jude. She was an incredible doctor and never lost that smile while we were there. After she left, we asked about her and was told that her husband had passed away and she had moved on from the hospital. He died of an asthma attack and she was unable to save him. They were in the process of adopting a child from China. I often wonder if she lost her smile during her own dark times or if she pushed through and still smiles for her patients like she did for us.
This is Amber with Dr. Shearer at a check-up after she was done with her treatments. We were still visiting the hospital every six weeks at this point. See her beautiful smile? She was like that every single time we saw her. Thank you Dr. Shearer for all you did for Amber and our family!