Gail Gillies went to her grave believing Northside Hospital oncology nurse April Addison was her earth angel.
The two met five years ago when Gillies was newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and Addison was fresh from nursing school.
A bond developed between the two women during that hospital stay, one that each worked to sustain. Every time Gillies visited Northside, she sought out Addison. When Addison married, she was eager to show Gillies pictures from her wedding.
Gillies was devasted when doctors told her a few months ago that her cancer was back and untreatable and she’d be heading home for hospice.
“I felt defeated and depressed when all of the sudden during shift change I saw April’s name written on the board as my nurse of the day,” Gillies wrote.
The two hugged on sight and then cried as Gillies shared the doctor’s words.
“April held my hand and began to educate me. She said hospice was not a death sentence.”
Addison told Gillies that, since she didn’t feel like she was dying, she should use hospice as a time to do something she always wanted to do – such as travel or visit with friends.
“I cried. I finally felt free and relieved,” Gillies wrote.
Recently, Gillies was at the beach with family, taking Addison’s advice and penning her Celebrating Nurses nomination.
“April is an angel from above,” she wrote. “My family loves her.”
Addison, who has been at Northside since college, was four years old when she first considered a career in nursing.
The Louisiana native’s aunt was going to school to become a nurse and April’s mom would be at the kitchen table helping her sister study.
“I would be in her lap,” Addison recalled. “I was always nosy.”
She said she was drawn to oncology having lost a grandfather to cancer and having seen her two-year-old niece fight cancer of the tongue.
“I’ve always wanted to be a healer and fixer,” Addison said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.