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Blue Skies and Unfamiliar Terrain

September 29, 2010

After her 21-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma—a lesser-known cancer of the bone and soft tissue—June Schuey was left on unfamiliar terrain.

“When you’ve been lucky and not had to experience very bad things in life, you take every day for granted,” says June. “is news changed my outlook on life.”

June had no experience with chemotherapy treatments. She’d never had reason to visit the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. She had never been asked difficult questions like those concerned loved ones were now asking about Samantha.

But the support June and her family continue to receive from the staff at Siteman is a reassuring force in a chaotic time for their family.

“I gave a gift to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation in honor of the wonderful care given at Siteman because that is what was in my heart,” says June.

June is especially grateful for the care that the Siteman team provided Samantha and her family the day that Samantha’s reaction to her chemotherapy treatment differed from her previous reactions.

“The Siteman nurses checked in on our family every few minutes and closelymonitored Samantha. ey reassured us that Samantha’s reaction was normal and that we shouldn’t worry. They were really there for us at a time when we needed their support,” says June.

Also providing a sense of calm for June during her time spent with Samantha at Siteman is the art exhibit on Samantha’s floor. Photographer Jane Floyd-Hendey, photographs of blue skies and lifeguard stands to Barnes-Jewish Hospital nurses on this cancer care floor through the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation’s Arts+Healthcare program. Jane gave the photographs in honor of the “lifeguards” (nurses) who saved her life.

For June, the blue skies in each of the pieces and Jane’s plaque describing the exhibit remind her that there are other people who have received a cancer diagnosis “out of the blue” like Samantha. Knowing that she and her family are not alone in this experience has helped as they continue to support each other through this chapter in their lives.

Update: In June, Samantha found out that her cancer had spread to her lungs. She went through chemotherapy treatment that significantly reduced the lung cancer. Her family is grateful, and Samantha has been able to rest at home since her last treatment.

"Samantha is a very positive person—she has been positive through this whole experience," said June.


Samantha was pursuing a degree in deaf communications when she was originally diagnosed, and her dream is to be able to finish her studies.
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