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If you have to battle cancer, 'I hope you find an Angie'

Over the past six months, Wichitan Carol Carpenter has been in and out of Ascension Via Christi St. Francis' 7th-floor Cancer Institute, battling recurrent melanoma that has metastasized in her spine and other locations.

During Carol's three inpatient stays, "the nurses and staff have become like family," wrote her daughter, Ashley Reichenborn, in a widely shared Facebook post about her mother's most recent hospitalization. 

"One in particular, Angie Henry, has bonded with my mom in a special, beautiful way," Ashley continued. "Angie's ridden this rollercoaster of a month alongside us."

The family connected with Henry during Carol's second stay and she has been Carol's primary day-side nurse ever since. Although she's been a nurse less than three years and has only been serving on the oncology unit since last September, Henry quickly has developed her own style in working with patients. 

"I like to sit down and talk with my patients and get to know them and what their goals are," says Henry, who lets them know that it's OK to cry and often cries with them. "I tell them, you have cancer, you're allowed to be as angry as you want to be."

She also makes sure to be in her patients' rooms before they are scheduled for their next round of pain medication so they don't have to wait and takes note of what seems to bring them comfort.

"It's just doing the little things," says Henry, who worked in a cruise line call center for 10 years before, she says, “God spoke to me and told me that becoming an oncology nurse was what I needed to do.”

According to Ashley's Facebook post and photo, published on a particularly hard day, Henry routinely goes above and beyond in her care of her mother.

"Angie handpicks the staff for Mom when she's not working. She even texts other nurses or messages me to check on Mom on her days off. Mom likes to make sure that nurses who are new to her have been through 'Angie training.'"

"Mom embraced Angie and told her that she loved her and Angie told her that she loved her back," she wrote, adding that she was “humbled by the attentiveness, empathy and hard work the amazing women and men of the St. Francis cancer ward have shown my mother during some of the most difficult weeks of her life.

"If you or a loved one ever have to battle cancer, I hope you find an Angie.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.