As a Pharmacist in The Scarborough Hospital’s Oncology Clinic for the last 17 years, Allison Jocko has counselled countless patients about their chemotherapy treatments. But never did she expect that one day the person she would be teaching about their medication would be her mother.
Allison’s mother, Rosemary Wagner, had long been followed at Mount Sinai Hospital for her yearly mammograms through her family physician’s connection to the hospital. In December of 2011, one of Rosemary’s routine mammograms showed a lump in her breast. A biopsy and ultrasound confirmed the lump was cancerous and Rosemary had surgery to remove it.
“We knew that although her cancer was caught early she would need chemotherapy to prevent it from recurring,” says Allison.
“When it came time to meet with an oncologist to discuss treatment, I insisted she be referred to The Scarborough Hospital. I know what fantastic staff we are fortunate to have in our oncology clinic so I knew her care would be excellent.”
In addition, Rosemary – a Scarborough resident for over 50 years – was a convenient ten minute drive from the General campus, something Allison realized would be important “considering she would be coming here every three weeks for over a year.”
Rosemary started chemotherapy in March 2012 under the care of Dr. Orit Freedman. And although cancer treatment can be, as Allison puts it “a frightening journey full of unknowns”, for Rosemary, it also provided unique insights into the outstanding care her daughter had been telling her about for years at The Scarborough Hospital.
“When I was having my chemotherapy, I could see how well all the patients were treated,” says Rosemary. “The staff always made us feel special. They knew each person’s name, were very caring in how they spoke and always spent the time patients needed with them, no matter how busy the clinic was.
I thought having chemotherapy would be a horrible experience, but the staff really made it so much easier to get through.”
“My mom once said to me during her chemotherapy that she felt she must be getting special treatment because she was my Mom,” explains Allison. “I told her that’s the way all patients are treated here. Every patient is someone’s mom, sister, son, or father etc.”
Of course, having her daughter just down the hall was very comforting for Rosemary as well.
“It was very convenient to be able to ask her what to do when I wasn’t feeling well,” says Rosemary. “My daughter and I have always been very close, but I think this experience brought us even closer.”
Allison admits that knowing her mother was going to have chemotherapy treatment made her “almost as nervous as my mom was, even though I knew what to expect and how to help her.”
“Suddenly I was the family member of a patient and on the ‘other side’ of things seeing the patient experience through my mom’s eyes,” says Allison.
Rosemary completed her chemotherapy treatment in May 2013 and says she “feels great now.”
“She’s so glad she made the choice to come to The Scarborough Hospital for her chemotherapy treatment, but hopes she never needs our services again,” says Allison.