When nursing student Melissa Odrowski did a summer placement at the North East CCAC, she didn’t expect to become so involved with a family facing a palliative diagnosis. When she first met Lloyd Camelon and his long-time caregiver and partner, Eba Slaght, she was so impressed with the relationship they had formed with their CCAC Palliative Nurse Practitioner, Susan Robinson, that she wrote an article on their shared experiences. Here is her story.
When a family member is suffering from a serious illness, it can be a stressful time for everyone. There are so many things to deal with – the diagnosis itself, medical procedures, pain management, home care – it’s easy to see how the situation can quickly become overwhelming. For cancer patient Lloyd Camelon and his partner of 16 years, Eba Slaght, the advocate they needed to help them navigate the often confusing health care system came into their lives in March 2015. Susan Robinson, a Palliative Nurse Practitioner with the North East CCAC, began working with Lloyd and Eba soon after his third diagnosis of cancer.
“The first thing she asked me was if there was anything I needed help with, anything I didn’t understand,” Lloyd recalls. “Sometimes I couldn’t follow what my doctor and chemo specialists were telling me. Susan interpreted tests results and clearly explained the physician’s instructions in terms that I could understand.”
“Susan really cared for my physical, emotional and psychological needs,” Lloyd says. “We openly discussed treatment options and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on diet and skin health. She even set us up with a pain specialist.”
In her role as a Nurse Practitioner, Susan often acted as a liaison between Lloyd, his family members, and the health care team. Susan also provided Eba with support and guidance as she provided daily care to her partner.
“I felt that I could phone her anytime, even if I just needed to talk,” Eba says. “I knew I could confide in Susan, because whatever you said to her, you knew stayed with her. Sometimes all you need is a shoulder to lean on.”
In June 2015, Susan had to break the news to the couple that she was moving to London. While they were sorry to see her go, both Lloyd and Eba were very thankful for the time that they had with her. When asked what advice they would pass on to other health care employees, Eba replied, “Be understanding. Susan always gave that little extra time and care, and it helped a lot. Every little bit goes a long way.”
“Susan was the best,” Lloyd adds. “The CCAC is going to have a hard time replacing her, I’ll tell you that!”