Ode to Nurse Ginny
My dear friend and colleague Virginia “Ginny” Mabesoone died on Jan. 12, 2023, at the age of 75. Ginny was the first Backus Hospital nurse to welcome me in 1985, an imposing figure, but gentle and disarming. She was eager to develop an oncology service and became one of the founding members of oncology service on ward B4, first as an IV therapy nurse and then later as the oncology nurse director. She was self-taught, and quickly mastered clinical skills in oncology nursing. She had an instinctual, deep empathy for cancer patients and their families.
Her clinical expertise was matched by her administrative and leadership skills, mentoring many nurses in oncology who still practice at Backus Hospital and Eastern Connecticut Hematology and Oncology. I am most appreciative of her friendship and trust. She would rein in my excess with the often-repeated phrase “I understand why you’re upset, but this is what we have to do.” She would always listen and meet me halfway on solving problems. She and I had a singular animus, caring for cancer patients 24/7. She jealously guarded the beds on ward B4, then ward E3, and finally A2 - only oncology patients, only oncology nurses.
Ginny had that rare combination of a good heart, common sense, courage to stand her ground, curiosity, hard work, love of Backus Hospital and the Norwich community. She comported herself with great dignity throughout her many years with cancer, never complaining, always hopeful, and always praising the courage of others. Hers was a life fulfilled. Bravo and rest in peace my good friend.
Dr. Dennis Slater is the Founding Medical Director at Cancer Services at Backus Hospital.