Ann Marie Wallace
Ann Marie Wallace: I Choose Better Care
I am Ann Marie Wallace, and my family and I choose Baptist Cancer Center for better patient-centered care.
It’s not often that a cancer journey also turns into a love story. After all Dr. Charles and Ann Marie Wallace had been married for nearly a quarter of a century already, so the love was always there. But when cancer treatment and a milestone wedding anniversary collided, it was easy to see the conflicts that needed to be overcome. However, what wasn’t so evident was the role a cancer treatment center could play in this love story.
“When my husband got his cancer diagnosis, it was a real shocker,” said Ann Marie, a senior community outreach coordinator at Baptist Memorial Health Care. “More so to him first. I didn’t know what was going on at first. I could only see the eyes of the people talking at a distance, and they were a little teary. The nurse involved in the conversation happened to know my husband through work. And when a doctor gets sick, it seems to affect everyone around him.”
The diagnosis was multiple myeloma, a rare form of cancer that affects 200,000 people a year in the United States.
“It was a diagnosis he wouldn’t have wanted for anybody,” recalled Ann Marie. “And I will say when it’s a physician who is all of sudden plagued with an illness, it is a hard pill to swallow. They obviously know a lot about the disease and how it works, and they try to figure it out themselves.”
Charles also was determined to meet his responsibilities to his patients.
“My husband still wanted to work, you know. He still had things he needed to do, with a private practice and having four kids,” said Ann Marie. “He always said that sometimes physicians are the hardest patients to work with. And it was a real challenge for him to accept his condition because his faith told him that God had more for him.”
Ann Marie says the doctors at Baptist Cancer Center understood Charles’ struggles — medically, personally and professionally. And they treated his cancer, knowing that Charles was going to need every advantage to beat his cancer, care for his own patients and provide for his loving family.
As fate would have it, Charles was hospitalized just before he and Ann Marie were to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, a tremendous accomplishment for any couple and an occasion worthy of special celebration. But how would they do it while Charles was in the hospital? With the help of members of the Baptist Cancer Center care team, Ann Marie came up with a plan.
“I walked into his room with a wheelchair and told him to hop on, we’re going to dinner,” said Ann Marie. “He said ‘Can’t we just eat in the room?’ and I said, ‘No, we can’t just eat in the room.’ I wheeled him down to the new terrace where some of the care team helped me set up a table with a white table cloth with real dishes and silverware, candles, floral arrangements — everything. It certainly wasn’t the 25th anniversary celebration we had dreamed of, but it was the most memorable, sweet and strangely romantic dinner we ever shared. And I have the team at Baptist Cancer Center to thank for it.”
Ann Marie feels sure that she would not have been able to arrange a special dinner like that, or receive the same personal level of care, compassion and commitment from just any cancer care facility.
“If somebody comes to me looking for a recommendation for a cancer doctor or hospital, I most definitely recommend Baptist Cancer Center,” said Ann Marie.
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