Tag Archives: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

On the oncology floor, nursing is about “Showing up.”

Mandy and CharlieMandy Drozda joined the hematology/oncology team at St. Louis Children’s Hospital more than thirteen years ago. She started as a registered nurse, and has since become a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP). She’s gotten married, started a family and cared for hundreds of young cancer patients along the way, and as she tells From the Bedside, she’s still learning from patients and their families every day.

When I got out of school, I was offered three jobs. But I remember my mom saying, “If you were offered the hem/onc job, there’s a reason. You should take it.”

I listened to my mom. I took the hem/onc job, knowing I would need to learn how to be a nurse while learning the specialty – and I loved it. After two years at another hospital, I decided to venture to St. Louis Children’s and see if they had any Hem/Onc positions.  I literally came over, walked into the clinic, and asked at the front desk for the manager. They brought out the head nurse, and I said, “I want to work here, and I need to know how to make this happen.”

I went through interviews and the whole process, and was not hired. But I kept my eye on the division, and I came back the next spring to interview again. I will never forget Dr. Hayashi saying to me, “We didn’t hire you last time. How does that make you feel?” I told him, “I’ll keep coming back until you do.” Needless to say, our interview was complete and as they say, the rest is history. I was hired at that time.

That was more than 13 years ago. A lot has happened since then. I’ve experienced a lot of life. I got married, and I left this job for a few months. I realized I had made a huge mistake, I missed it, so I worked my way back in. Since then, I’ve had three children who have taught me many life lessons which, in turn, have taught me so much about my job.

My third child was born last September, and had a stroke during delivery. He spent five days in the NICU. He’s doing really well now, working hard at his weekly therapies, persevering. We are hoping he will eventually overcome his challenges. But I learned countless, priceless lessons from this situation, and when I first came back to work, it made me listen a lot differently. I learned what I didn’t know about crisis at all before – and that is when there is a crisis, it is all about showing up. If you just walk through the door, show up, and stand there, it starts. Some people need an hour, other families are good to go. Some need something entirely different. It’s my job to figure out how they need to be supported, and to follow through.

Charlie’s family needed something different than most. Charlie came in when he was little bitty. He was full of leukemia in his brain. His wonderful parents love him so much, but both work full time. So in the beginning with Charlie, it was hard, because although they do have a very set caregiver schedule, it was different every day. Mom and dad work, so they were around mostly on a day off, nights and weekends. We knew these parents were not choosing to not be here; they were petrified of losing their jobs and insurance. They were surviving. It hit home to me that if this were my family, the situation would be very similar. I, too, would need to be at work most days. I know that’s what I would have to do, and it would be the hardest thing in the world. So I’d want a care team committed to doing everything inside and outside the box to make sure I was in the loop.

That’s why now, when Charlie is admitted, I try to call mom everyday. We go over everything for the day: what the plan is, what changes have occurred, what her concerns are, etc. That was how I could be present for this family. We just talk and work out the puzzle. We put my pieces into hers, and figure out the plan.

Charlie is a little miracle. He’s just one of those kids that makes me think, “This is why I come to work every day.” I can’t even bring myself to think about what this little boy looked like in the PICU, because he was so full of leukemia. Everything is nearly resolved. All of it. Infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a terrible disease, but he’s usually smiling or giggling. His progress is amazing.

He’s also a just few days older than my son. And, in the beginning, I wanted to say to his mom, “Quit your job. Come hold him.” But – he’s fine! He doesn’t have leukemia right now. He’s almost to the maintenance portion of his therapy. It doesn’t mean it can’t come back, but he’s pretty much thriving. He could be the small percentage that will sail through and be fine! Watching him go through it and deal with it, and his mom finding the strength to do what she thinks is right – enlisting the many people who love him to stay with him during the day, and trust the team of us here to care for him –it shows that it really does take a village. That village includes not only the friends and family they had before, but now me and the rest of our team.

So many people are involved in caring for these incredibly complex patients. They have their standard appointments and admissions for treatment, and they know who they’ll see for those, but then they rebound with fevers and illnesses, and they see new faces. The nurse practitioners in our division make sure each of these children receives the care they need; regardless of why they’re in the hospital, we’re the glue. Our residents are learning to be doctors; our fellows have huge research and clinical responsibilities. But every time one of our patients crosses the threshold of this hospital, their family knows the PNP they can lean on. Everybody plays a role, but to get to the nitty gritty of each child’s plan, you need to know what’s next. We’re the connection to that. We’re the GPS.  And, by default, we are privileged enough to wind up super close to our families.

These families, more than anything, just want their questions answered, and want to know that we’re all on the same page. Because whether it’s bad news or good, they want continuity of everyone being on the same team, and to know at the end of the day they did everything for their child they could do. That’s all anyone wants to look back on. That’s the greatest reassurance I can offer a family.

I always hear, “How do you do this?” In my mind, somebody has to do it, and either you can or you can’t. The only way to know is by doing it. Then if you do it and love it, there’s no leaving it. There’s nothing else that can ever give back to you like this job. When you look at the cure rate overall, it’s about 70%. So most kids are walking out of here, but you have to come to grips with the fact that 30% aren’t walking out of here. I’ve seen families on both sides of the statistics, so I know that if tomorrow things change, a child’s disease returns– I also know how to support parents down that road too. But just like Charlie’s family, I have no reason not to hope to beat the odds. At the end of the day, that is all anyone is trying to do, beat the odds – find another drug, another curative regimen, another chance. I am lucky enough to call this my job and it is truly my honor to play a role in these children’s lives. Children, like Charlie, are the sole reason that I continue to “show up” everyday.

Cancer nurse continues to celebrate patient she called “the life of the party”

Rema Sous MaloneRema Sous Malone has worked at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for nearly four years. She started as a patient care technician (PCT) while still earning her nursing degree from St. Louis University, and became a nurse when she received her bachelor’s degree in 2011. She’s still in school, now working toward her graduate degree while caring for patients. As Rema says in this post for From the Bedside, she’s met a number of children who have made an impact on her life, but Mert was extra-special. Meredith would have turned 20 today (September 2), and though she’s not here to mark the occasion, Rema and many others continue to celebrate her life.

Most people say that they choose their profession, but I wholeheartedly believe that my profession chose me.

Becoming a hematology/oncology nurse has been a dream of mine ever since I was a child. I distinctly remember sitting in my room and reading books about a little girl who attended cancer camp. I liked reading about her life and what she was going through. Although I never truly understood the perseverance and hope these children have until I started working with them as a nurse, my passion for caring for them started when I was very young.

My dream became a reality when I was hired to work on the 9th floor immediately after college. Working with these children was everything I had imagined and more, and I am truly honored to care for such wonderful people. When I tell others what I do, I often get the response “How can you do that?” I can quickly reply with, “I can’t imagine doing anything else, working with anyone else.”

Over the last almost 4 years that I have been a nurse, I have cared for many children with all different types of diagnoses. I truly believe that every patient that I have taken care of has impacted me in some way. I would be lying if I said there aren’t challenging days, but the kids and families that I take care of, along with my amazing coworkers, make it all worth it.

thoughtful mertA patient of mine who has taught me many life lessons was Meredith. Meredith was diagnosed with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia in November 2012 when she was 18 years old. I was assigned to be her nurse the first day she was on our floor. I knew we would quickly become close; her personality was absolutely contagious. I cared for Meredith, also known as “Mert” or “Merty” nearly every shift I worked, becoming closer to her as time went on. Not only did I get to know Meredith during her treatment, but I also grew close to her family. Meredith’s parents and siblings were always at her bedside, caring and fighting fiercely with and for their loved one. Mert not only had the constant support of her family, but also her friends. The love and support of Meredith’s friends during her treatment was incredible. They came after school, to keep her up to date with the latest gossip and fashion (which would then be relayed to me), had Gossip Girl marathons and pizza and movie nights on the weekends. Even fighting cancer, Meredith was the life of the party.

Mert finished her treatment in May, went to prom, attended her high school graduation, and began her summer before she was off to Emory University. Her summer was halted when Mert found out during a routine check-up that her cancer had returned. It was an unbelievably devastating day but, just like before, Mert was determined and courageous and knew she was going to fight back hard, regardless of her fear. During the next several months Mert received more chemotherapy, fought vicious infections, and received a bone marrow transplant. Meredith also spent a lot of her time in the PICU, where I would visit her as often as I could. After a long and challenging several months, Meredith courageously lost her battle in November 2013.

Rema and MeredithAlthough I only knew Meredith for a year, she will forever affect me. There are not enough good things I could say about her. She was thoughtful, beautiful and intelligent. She always knew what was going on with her treatment and her body, and always asked questions. She did homework while stuck in the hospital – often scoring much higher on tests than anyone else in her class – and despite the fact that she was hospitalized most of her senior year, she graduated high school without a problem.

Meredith was a fashionista, a singer, and had a wonderful sense of humor. She always kept me up to date on the latest trends, would sing hours of Taylor Swift with her friends (and often times to Dr. Hayashi), and would walk around the floor talking in the infamous British accent she would break into when on Morphine.

Meredith was genuine, loving, and outgoing. The day that I came in to tell her I was engaged, she wanted to know every detail of the wedding planning.

Meredith was courageous, determined, and fearless. Although she knew she had a tough road ahead of her, especially after her relapse, she never complained, never gave up, and always chose to fight for her life.

Mert Boyers lakeMeredith will never know exactly how much she impacted my life or the lives around her. She may have thought that I was helping her, but in reality, she was helping me in so many ways. Being a hematology/oncology nurse can be challenging, but seeing how I can make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families makes every hard day worthwhile. Their hope, their strength, their courage and their determination is incredible. They are the bravest kids I’ve ever met, never quitting, even after the hardest day. Getting to know my patients and their families keeps me coming back for more. Every patient has impacted my life and career in some way, making me realize I should never take a single day or a single person for granted, and I am truly honored that I can take care of them day after day.

Parenting Kids with Cancer

Debra Spoljaric always wanted to be a “baby nurse”, but after her rotation at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, she knew she was meant to work with kids with cancer.  She says she could tell right away that the nurses loved not only their jobs, but the kids, too.  She received her nursing diploma in 1991, and started working as a floor nurse with the hematology/oncology team at Children’s right away.  She became a full time pediatric nurse practitioner with Washington University in 2004.  She has dedicated much of her career to working with children with brain tumors, and shares her experiences with two patients and their parents with From the Bedside.

When people ask me how long I’ve been here, I tell them I’ve been around forever.  I feel like I have!  While I was working on my nurse practitioner degree, I was also working as a nurse with Wings, our pediatric hospice program.  And that’s when I fell in love with the brain tumor kids.

I’ve always had a heart for oncology, but as I was wrapping up my program, Children’s was hiring into the neuro-oncology position.  Initially, I thought, “I don’t know if I can do it.”  It would be 24/7, working in it, living it.  But the brain tumor kids are so inspiring.  Whether they survive or don’t survive, they always seem to embrace the life they choose for themselves.

So much of that goes back to their families.  I’ve not only encountered inspiring patients over the years, but so many inspiring parents – parents who are under enormous pressure to make life-altering decisions with huge consequences for their kids – and I’ve watched so many do it with enormous grace.

Morgan with her mom, KristinWe had one little girl, Morgan, who was diagnosed a couple years ago with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).  That diagnosis is almost always dismal.  Statistically speaking, patients don’t survive long term.  Her mom was essentially a single mom, and from the very beginning she was all about embracing Morgan’s quality of life.

Morgan’s mom was just the perfect mom, if you can say that about people.  Morgan was still disciplined, she still had a bedtime, she went to school, she said, “Yes ma’am.  No ma’am.”  GBMs are nearly always fatal, but that didn’t keep Mom from treating her child like a 4-year-old who would survive – which is what we, as a neuro-onc group, teach our families.  Until your tumor tells us otherwise, we’re planning for you to live to 120 years old.

Debra and MorganThis family embraced that, and from day one it was all about quality of life, moving forward with treatment, and making it through.  Morgan did great.  She responded well to therapy, and while she suffered a few deficits, she adapted to those changes.  She went back to preschool.  She embraced life.

She finished her course of treatment and would come back for routine scans.  Before she even started to show symptoms, though, our neuro-radiologists could see the tumor was starting to grow again.  At the time, we didn’t have any clinical trials open here, so we looked for options elsewhere, and sent the family to another hospital for an open trial.  But when Morgan got there she told her mom she just wanted to come home.  She wanted her team.  Mom, again, chose to put Morgan’s quality of life and her comfort first.


They came back to St. Louis, and we threw everything we had at this tumor.  She responded well initially, but when it came to a point where things stopped working and Morgan didn’t want to come to the hospital anymore, we supported her mom in the decision to transfer care and send her home.

Morgan was 6 when she died peacefully at home.  But for the years she was alive, her mom allowed her to embrace her life.  She treated her kid like she was living, but also acknowledged when things weren’t going well and helped her through the challenges.  She was just an amazing, amazing mom.

"Benjamin the Brave" during treatmentWe had another kid, Ben, who had a different kind of tumor, but a similar situation.  Ben was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a tumor in the back of his head.  His prognosis was much better than Morgan’s, but his journey would be dotted with its share of hurdles.

From a provider’s standpoint, all we can do is provide the nuts and bolts of it.  We provide the information, but parents have to make the decision and live with it for the rest of their lives.  Ben’s mom was also wonderful at hearing what we had to say, processing it, and choosing what was best for her kid.  She researched the options, and chose what she felt was in her family’s best interest.

Ben and his sister during treatmentMeanwhile, though, she’s managing the same everyday struggles that overwhelm even the best of us.  She was a single mom raising two kids, living with her parents, trying to work, coming here – then throw in the financial stresses of therapy co-pays and special eating needs and ER visits for fevers – but she handled all of it, and is raising a well-behaved, well-mannered young man who still has time to act like a kid.

Ben todayBen’s doing well today.  He’s taking Tae Kwon Do, and is improving.  He still has issues, gets tired, etc.  He’s about three years out, and there are always little bumps in the road.  But mom is grateful for the knowledge and answers we can provide, and recognizes that this is lifelong.  There are late effects from his treatment, but she embraces that, and understands that sometimes we don’t have all of the answers.  Together, though, we’re still a team, and we’re working on it.

In my time working with oncology patients, I’ve seen a child with liver cancer who was given a 1% shot at survival make it.  I’ve also seen a girl with a type of leukemia with a 90% cure rate die.  Those are the reasons I tell my families that statistics don’t mean anything.  And these are parents who took that to heart, and raised their kids like normal kids.

We tell our families you have to focus on today.  But it’s easy for me to sit here and say that, because I’m not living your life.  We’re hoping for tomorrow and planning for tomorrow, but just like parents of perfectly healthy children, you can’t let your kids take advantage of you because they know they can.  Set limits.  At the same time, take them for an ice cream cone and let the laundry sit for a day.  Go to a movie.  Snuggle with them.  Because if you’re raising good kids, who really cares about the dishes in the sink?

In 2010, when Ben was nearing the end of his treatment, he documented his time at St. Louis Children’s Hospital using the “Kid Cam”.  The resulting video is a look at Ben’s experience through his own eyes.



From a Pediatric Cancer Nurse: “Why I take my work home.”

When Luke Hofmann was in college, he thought about going to medical school.  But when it came time to pick a profession, he knew he belonged elsewhere.  He went on to nursing school, like his mom and grandmother had done before him.  Since then, he has worked on the hematology and oncology unit at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  He shares with From the Bedside his experiences with two remarkable families he’s cared for over the last three years.

During nursing school, I did my pediatric clinical at Children’s and I knew that was where I wanted to work. I enjoy the opportunity to take care of not only the kids, but also their whole family.  I’ve always had a tendency to seek out challenges.  The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity to make an impact.  Naturally, working with kids who have cancer presents a lot of challenges, so working in oncology has turned out to be a great fit for me.

While we like for kids to be at home as much as possible, sometimes they just have to be in the hospital.  Unfortunately, some kids have to be admitted on the floor for long periods of time.  As a nurse, this allows me to get to know some of the families.  That’s my favorite part of my job.  I enjoy building the relationships with the kids and families.  Nothing is more rewarding than gaining the trust of a kid and their family.  Cancer is scary.  All the medicine, procedures, time in the hospital, etc. is tough stuff.  But I enjoy being there for them from the beginning to the end…no matter how it ends.  I take a lot of pride in building those trusting relationships with the kids and their families.

I think one of the most important times for an oncology nurse is when a kid gets diagnosed.  The families are in shock and their world is turned upside down.  I take a lot of pride in being able to give them that bit of reassurance that we are going to do everything we can to help them.  When a kid or a parent is having a really rough day, I enjoy being able to go in and sit and talk with them and give them the support they need.

I’ve been at Children’s three-and-a-half years, and I’ve taken care of so many kids that I’ll never forget. They are all inspirational to me.  I wish I had time to talk about them all.  But there are two that really stick out in my mind, Brandon and Cory.

Luke and Brandon

Brandon was diagnosed with leukemia when I first started as a nurse.  In fact, he was one of the first patients I took care of.  I could relate to him right from the start.  Brandon and I are very similar in many ways (even though he was 6 and I was…well, a lot older).  In fact, over the years his mother has come to call him my “brother from another mother.”  We both love hockey and we both like to cause a little light-hearted trouble every once in a while.  Those are two things that led to our favorite activities in the hospital, hallway hockey and squirt gun fights.  What I really liked about Brandon was that he was such a tough kid and that he had this quiet intensity about him.  He took on every challenge like it was nothing.  And that’s how he fought cancer.  You would never even know he had cancer unless he told you.  He was determined to not let it hold him back.  It’s inspiring to see such toughness and determination from a kid who was just 6 years old at the time.

While Brandon was receiving treatment, I became good friends with him and his family.  Brandon is now 10 years old and doing great.  The past two years, he has helped me raise money for the St. Baldrick’s charity (which focuses on funding research for pediatric cancer) by shaving my head.  Last fall, Brandon finished the last of his treatments.  When kids are done with therapy, they get to ring a big bell we have hanging up to celebrate.  Watching Brandon ring the bell is one of my favorite moments in life.

The other kid I always think of is my friend Cory.  Cory was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in the fall of 2010.  He was the sweetest kid. He was always very calm and had this gentleness to him.  He was the biggest Cardinal fan I’ve ever met.  I loved hearing him talk about the Cardinals.  They could have never won a game, and he would have been cheering for them anyway.  And, I swear, in 2011 when the Cardinals were 10 games out of a playoff spot late in the season, he predicted they would win the World Series.  Cory had the best smile when he was laughing.  He would try not to laugh at my dumb jokes but he put up with me, and when I could get him to laugh, it always made my day.

One of the things I loved most about Cory was his family.  He had his mom, dad and sister, and they were awesome.  Cory was the best big brother to his sister, who he always looked out for.  His sister would be bouncing off the walls and he would just roll his eyes at her, but they adored each other.  His mom was always very composed and tough and his dad was such an incredible dad.  I’ve never seen a father and son as close to each other as they were.  They took great care of him. That family always amazed me.  It’s humbling just to see how tough and composed they were.

Luke and Cory

Unfortunately, Cory lost his battle to cancer in July 2012.  I had the privilege of taking care of him and his family during some of his last days, including the day he passed away.  Days like that are incredibly tough as a nurse, but it is truly a privilege to be there for families during those times.  Words can’t express how honored I am to have gotten to know Cory and to have been his friend.

Brandon and Cory are just two of the kids that I think of every day.  There are so many more, too.  I could go on and on about these kids.  They are just so amazing.  Occasionally people will ask me, “Isn’t it hard not to take it home?”  I always ask them, “Why wouldn’t I take it home?”  If I didn’t take it home with me, I don’t think I would be doing my job very well.  There is certainly a degree of separation one must have at times as a nurse, but I don’t go into work to clock in for 12 hours and then go home.  I want to be there for these kids.  I’m invested in them and their fight.  I am inspired on a daily basis by the kids I get to take care of.  The day that I don’t “take it home” with me to an extent is the day that I will look for another job.  These kids and their families deserve the best from me.

I work with some amazing people.  We are always asked how we can work with kids with cancer because, “It’s so sad.”  I think each nurse has his or her own response to that, but it’s generally a question I just brush off.  It’s a calling.  It’s something I don’t think twice about.  Is it sad at times?  Yes, but it’s also inspiring.  If I have a sad day at work, it only makes me more motivated to come back the next day.  I’ve seen so many amazing moments of humanity, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.  Why wouldn’t I do this job?  I don’t ever question my choice in career. I can’t see myself doing anything else, to be honest.

So when people ask me why I do what I do, it’s an easy answer.  It’s for the kids.  It’s for Brandon.  It’s for Cory.  It’s for all the kids I get to take care of.  I am lucky to have this job and get to be around these kids and their families everyday.

Carter’s Song

Brittany RichardsonBrittany Richardson began working as a nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital while she was also finishing her master’s degree.  She’s now a pediatric nurse practitioner with Washington University School of Medicine on the hematology/oncology unit at Children’s.  When she was still a bedside nurse, Brittany met Carter and his family.  She tells From the Bedside about the impact he made on her life, and the difference he continues to make for the patients she treats today.

I have heard people say, “Once you’re born and bred heme/onc, you’re always heme/onc.”  I think it’s really true.  Once you enter this profession and get to know our kids and their families, they become a part of you, and your life changes forever.

I met Carter after I began working on the 9th floor.  He was undergoing treatment for relapsed leukemia.  I got assigned to take care of him several times, and I absolutely fell in love with both Carter and his family.  He was spunky and absolutely adorable.  He was full of joy and giggles, and his family was accepting of me and grew to trust me as their nurse.

Carter and PupPupI can vividly recall a CD that we would play over and over again in his room.  It contained a song that had been written just for him containing his name and lots of things about Carter that made him Carter.  We would sing it over and over again.  I’d always joke with his mom that after a night shift, I would wake up singing that song!

The nurses knew the names of all of the stuffed animals that would share his bed.  They had personalities.  So when you were taking care of Carter, you were also taking care of PupPup and his other fuzzy friends.  He had special blankets too, and we all knew to make sure that Carter’s feet remained poking ever so slightly out of the blankets.  (This became so important in Carter’s final days with us.)  I knew that his mother and father loved that the nurses knew these things about him.  I think that demonstrating our willingness to go the extra mile to make Carter feel at home meant so much to his family.  I also think that knowing the names of stuffed animals is one of the many joys of being a pediatric nurse!

Carter had a lot of serious complications and became very ill.  This was an extremely scary time for his family, but they graciously allowed the 9th floor staff to care for them and provide them with support so that they could focus on being with Carter.  Every shift I spent caring for Carter – even the difficult ones – provided me with so much joy and admiration for the strength that their family had.  Carter was always smiling, even on the difficult days.  I hope that if I were going through what he went through, that I would be as happy and as delightful as he was.

The 9th floor staff is unlike any other.  We truly want to do what’s best for our patients and families and want to get to know them.  We do not simply just want to know your name…it’s more than that.  We want to know what you like to eat or drink when nothing else sounds appealing.  How do you want me to arrange the stuffed animals in your bed when I make your bed each day?  What corny jokes can I tell to make you laugh when you aren’t feeling well?  It is those little things that our floor tries to understand about our patients so that we can make this floor feel like home – because for so many of our kids, this is their home for awhile.

You hear a lot of families say, “you’re like our new family now.”  We value that so much.  Not everyone is drawn to this profession.  It truly takes a special heart.  For me, working in the field of pediatric hematology/oncology is not a job – it’s a calling and a passion, and it’s almost truly sacred.  People hear that you work with children with cancer and they say, “how sad and depressing.”  I think that statement couldn’t be further from the truth!  There are moments of sadness and moments of grief, but with those come so many moments of joy and happiness.  It is an honor to walk with a family during such a time of crisis in their life.

Carter spent his final days in our wonderful Intensive Care Unit.  I would often go visit him before and after shifts to spend time with his family and provide a familiar face.  There were many times that I just quietly sat near Carter and held his hand, or I simply just fluffed his blanket so that his tiny toes were peeking out a bit – just like he always liked them to be.  Carter’s journey ended there, but his warm spirit and loving personality lives on with me and the other staff members who knew him well.  I think we can all say that we are better nurses after caring for him.

Carter in GardenI am so proud and honored to do what I do.  My work isn’t always easy, but it is absolutely always worth it.  The families I have met have changed my life and have made me the nurse that I am today.  Isn’t it amazing that, while going through the hardest time in one’s life, one is able to teach someone so much about love, gratitude, and hope?  That is exactly what Carter and his family did for me.  I smile every time I think of him – especially when Carter’s song pops into my head.  That is one song with a tune and lyrics I will treasure forever and certainly will not ever forget.

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