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Seven Years at Tennessee Oncology

by John Parker, formerly homeless writer for the Contributor

From the first day I went to Tennessee Oncology in May of 2007, I was no stranger. All the nurses, receptionists, and doctors treated me like I’d been there for 20 years. They just took care of me. I’ve never met anyone like them. I’ve got chronic anemia, so at first I was going to Tennessee On­cology every six months, then every three months, then two months and now I have to go every two weeks or when I feel like I’m too weak, but they al­ways take me in. Those people have been so good to me, I can barely put it into words. They make me feel better than my real family does.

Specifically I want to thank Lindsey Coleman, Cheryl Dunn, L’Nia Hall, Alia Nunn, Chelsea Turner, Deborah Reyn­olds, Janice Wilson. And also Jacky, Katy and Lindsey on the sixth floor. It it wasn’t for them, God and Dr. Doss, I really prob­ably wouldn’t be here today. I call Dr. Doss, “Sir Doss” be­cause he’s my knight in shining armor. I’ve never seen a person like this. Last time I went in, he asked me to sing a song, and as I was singing it, he joined in with me. That’s what kind of people work there. Before I left, when I was going out the door he was still singing!

I just haven’t met people like them before. They have hot cof­fee waiting for me when I get there. They have peanut but­ter crackers, candy, all kinds of stuff. Whatever I ask them for, they somehow come up with it. It ain’t nothing but love. And they treat everybody like that. You have patients on dialysis, cancer patients, and others, and they treat them all the same.

I just want to say thanks to them all for making me smile. I can walk in there depressed, but when I leave there I’m hap­pier because I know I’ve got the treatment that I need. But it’s not all about the treatment—its what they say to me and how they react to me with smiles and the love they give to me. Sometimes just the medical treatment doesn’t cut it. I need social treatment. You can feel down and they’ll bring you out of it, not by the medical treat­ment, but by the actions they take, their smiles and their love. They made me an honor­ary family member up there. They treat me like I’m royalty and I appreciate that.