Bobby Rogers chokes back emotion when he recalls one difficult morning during his brain tumor care, when compassion was the most important care.
(The caring team from Norton Brownsboro Hospital, from left to right: Catherine Tomes, RN, Autumn Chapman, RN, Regina Green, RN, Amanda Kroeger, PCA, Jessica Lesousky, RN, Aster Mehari, RN.)
A conversation with 66-year-old Bobby Rogers immediately tells you he has no time for “poor me” thinking.
He wants people to know, “This story is really not about me. It’s about the amazing people who care for people like me and my family.”
In November 2019 Bobby found out he has an aggressive brain tumor, glioblastoma. The diagnosis was made after intense muscle spasms in his stomach, chest and throat brought him to an emergency department near his Southern Indiana home.
He was sent to Norton Brownsboro Hospital, home of the region’s only comprehensive Brain Tumor Center. The center, a collaboration of Norton Neuroscience Institute and Norton Cancer Institute, brings together neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and others to gather a variety of viewpoints on the best course of care.
Bobby’s doctors included Mayshan Ghiassi, M.D., neurosurgeon with Norton Neuroscience Institute; Aaron C. Spalding, M.D., Ph.D., radiation oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute; and medical oncologists Renato V. Larocca, M.D., Adam D. Lye, M.D., and Patrick Williams, M.D., all with Norton Cancer Institute.
An Emotional Moment of Care
High on Bobby’s bucket list was sharing the story of his skilled and compassionate caregivers.
Bobby chokes back emotion when he talks about Aster Mehari, a patient care associate and unit coordinator who helped him feel “incredibly safe” one quiet morning. Bobby woke up teary, though not necessarily sad. He didn’t know what to make of the emotions.
When Aster asked about him, he felt she understood what he was feeling. She hugged him, placing her head on his chest. He was filled with a total sense of peace.
Aster then went about the routine of giving him a bath, changing his linens and generally making him feel more comfortable, but for Bobby this moment was unforgettable. It wasn’t about his diagnosis, or what comes next, but about how great a simple gesture of compassion can make you feel.
“At one point I asked if there’s a special personality test employees take to work on this unit,” Bobby said. “I could not believe they were all so wonderful.”
Bobby’s family was a constant presence, and everyone on the 3 East unit grew close with his wife, two grown children and four grandchildren.
The day of Bobby’s surgery — and the start of an eight-day stay in intensive care — was the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Tricia. The staff put together a special celebration, complete with a cake and card, for Bobby and Tricia.
Bobby’s grandson, a major league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, spent every night with his grandfather and was welcomed by the staff, who nicknamed him “The Night Nurse.” His daughter and son-in-law from Nashville frequently traveled to be there. His daughter-in-law was constantly there to do anything needed. When she had a birthday and did not want to leave, her friends were able to throw her a surprise party at the hospital so everyone could celebrate together.
Brain Tumor Center
With same-day appointments for newly diagnosed patients, the Brain Tumor Center combines the clinical expertise of specialists with tailored support services. The center provides one location for all treatment needs.
Understanding What Truly Matters
None of this surprises Regina Hymer, R.N., DNP, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Norton Brownsboro Hospital. Team members are encouraged to look beyond a diagnosis or medications and understand what truly matters to patients.
“We strive to meet patients where they are and make their care journeys as positive as possible,” she said. “For life-threatening conditions this may mean focusing on alleviating pain while allowing patients to stay engaged and enjoy life.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates about 170,000 people in the United States are diagnosed annually with metastatic brain tumors. While every person’s experience is different, the median survival time for glioblastomas treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is 15 months.
As a successful businessman, Bobby recognizes the value of excellent service. With his experience, he knows even great employees can have an occasional bad day.
“Nobody’s perfect,” he said. “Except for the team that worked on me.”