It’s A Different Compassion at Memorial Healthcare | Rosanna’s Story

September 19, 2016

Rosanna Salinas was the first, and only, Medical Assistant in the cancer center during its inception. She describes the center’s nascent atmosphere as energizing and thrilling, as everything was new – and she doesn’t solely mean the building and equipment. She had come to Memorial Healthcare from somewhere else.

“It was different,” she says. “I worked in family healthcare for a long time. Being here felt like you had a different purpose. You were giving people answers. It’s a different compassion here.”

At the end of a shift, Rosanna says she returned home feeling true purpose. Of course, working in a cancer center includes its difficulties. She recalls overwhelming emotion following the first patient death. It resulted in her returning home and crying. But she soon found proper coping mechanisms.

“I planted plenty of flowers in my front yard,” she says. “Just trying to rebuild, I guess. Showing new life, new growth.”

Rosanna sees an array of emotions displayed by every patient that comes through the cancer center’s doors. She witnesses anger, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness and more – but she recognizes how amazing each patient is. She says the cancer center team treats every patient like a family member no matter what emotion a patient exhibits.

And six years into her role at the cancer center, a patient was literally family; her father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and received treatment at Memorial Healthcare.

“You learn a different empathy when it’s your family member,” Rosanna says. “I went through all these emotions that every patient and family goes through.”

Her father underwent one of the first clinical trials Dr. Mahmood directed. Treatment was aggressive, and he displayed all the emotions with which Rosanna became accustomed: sadness, anger, fear, and more. However, she also saw the cancer center team do what they do best.

“We’ve done this for many patients, we can do this for him,” she says.

From beginning to end, Rosanna was right there alongside her father at Memorial Healthcare. She notes having him at Memorial was comforting, as she’s seen firsthand the cancer center team deliver the most care possible and treat patients respectfully and kindly.

“My dad gave a lot of people a hard time,” she says. “He was angry, you know. Life was cut too short for him. Everyone here made it good. They made it tolerable for us.”

Since her father’s passing, she shows even higher empathy levels for the patients and families that arrive at the cancer center. She tells them all they are not alone, and it’s a family affair at Memorial Healthcare.

Furthermore, she better understands how every second counts, that everything counts.

“We don’t like to let any time lapse,” she says. “I didn’t want any time to lapse for my dad. As a cancer center, everyone here works as a great team trying to get everything done for the patients.”

She knows at Memorial Healthcare everybody is an individual, that everybody is family. The cancer center team connects with its patients.

“We care about you here,” she says. “We help each other when it gets hard. Here is where everybody knows you. It’s like that Cheers bar, you know, everybody knows your name here. That’s how it is.”