Welcome to Difficult Conversations-Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. This week is extra special because my guest is extra special to me. My niece, Lauren Heaslip, is joining me to share her incredible story. I promise you that you won’t want to miss this one. Lauren Pender Heaslip was born prematurely at only 31 weeks gestation. That’s 9 weeks early! Her mother had a condition called Placenta Percreta, which caused her to hemorrhage profusely. After an emergency Cesarean Section was performed. both mother and daughter clinging to life kept alive by ventilators. Happily, they both survived.
At the age of sixteen, Lauren needed emergency surgery to reconstruct the cervical vertebrae in her neck. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was forced to face another medical challenge. Lauren shares how she and her family didn’t let the diagnosis define her and how she continued to live a life of normalcy. Thankfully, she is cancer free and remains cured until this day. Currently, Lauren is twenty-four years old and is working as a registered nurse in the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology ward at the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, treating children with cancer.
Lauren tells us her story starting when she was a happy sixteen year old, playing sports, feeling healthy, and then the neck pain started. She remembers hearing her doctor and her parents talking in the hallway and heard the word “tumor.” She clearly remembers her first conversation with the doctor, when she was told she had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She shares her story with us. Lauren describes the instant bond she felt with the doctor, who became her primary oncologist. Dr. Orsini explains the three most important goals doctors should have when giving bad news. Lauren tells us about her first conversation with her parents after and the story of how her doctor kept reminding her at every visit that, “Your life does not stop, and your life cannot stop because of this.” Lauren tells us a story about her prom and the side effects of her chemotherapy. She also tells us how she decided what type of nurse she wanted to be, and about the impact that one of her chemotherapy nurses had on her decision to become a pediatric oncology nurse. Lauren tells us how she uses her experience as a former cancer patient to help her patients and how she decides whether or not to share her story with her patients. She gives an AMAZING answer! Lauren shares personal insight on how she speaks to her cancer patients. She gives advice to any teenager who was just told by their doctor that they have cancer. She also gives advice to doctors and healthcare practitioners about how to give bad news to someone. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!