From devastating diagnosis to full recovery

Renee Sowards recovers after a tumor was removed from her spine. Her Akita, Keigo, stayed with her during her stay at TMC.

Renee Sowards recovers after a tumor was removed from her spine. Her Akita, Keigo, stayed with her during her stay at TMC.

For Tucson resident Renee Sowards, life took a 180-degree turn in three short months.  Last January, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her spine. It was serious enough that it was causing her to lose mobility in her legs and it required surgery.

Once she was diagnosed, Sowards did some research on which neurosurgeon she would literally trust her life with.  She decided to go with TMC’s Dr. Abhay Sanan from the Center for Neurosciences.  She called his office to get the new patient process started and hadn’t even made an appointment yet when she received a phone call that confirmed she had made the right choice.

“My phone rang at eight o’clock on a Sunday night.  It was Dr. Sanan.  He said he needed to see me right away, and I told him I had jury duty the next day.  He paused and asked, ‘So I take it you’re still ambulatory?’  I knew right then that my situation was very serious,” she said.  “Because of where the tumor was located, I stood a great chance of losing my legs.”

Renee Sowards enjoying the Sonoran desert more than a year after a tumor was removed from her spine.

Sowards enjoys the desert more than a year after a  tumor was removed at TMC.

Two weeks later, Sowards was in the operating room.  After several hours, she emerged from surgery and was told that it was a success.  When she learned she would spend the next five days at TMC recovering, Sowards had a unique request for hospital staff.  “I asked if Keigo, our 140-pound well-behaved Akita could stay with me in my room.”  To her surprise, the answer was yes.  “It was so comfortable to be able to sit in my chair and just rub my toes on him as he lay at my feet.  Having him there really helped me heal,” she said.  “My husband had a hard time leaving my side when I was going through this.  Knowing that I was receiving the best care and had Keigo with me gave him the peace of mind he needed to go home at night.”

Since her surgery and stay, Sowards has made a complete recovery and eventually headed back to work. “I had such excellent care at TMC, and Dr. Sanan was so wonderful,” said Sowers.



Arizona Nurses Association bestows top honors on TMC, nurse manager

Michael Lally, RN, manages Unit 850, Neurology/Neurosurgery

Tucson Medical Center and one of its nurse managers took home top honors at the Arizona Nurses Association’s  Imagine Nurses Driving Healthcare biennial convention last month.

Tucson Medical Center received the Employer Excellence award and Michael Lally, MSN, RN, received the Excellence in Clinical Practice award.

“The employer award recognizes a tremendous amount of work over the last few years to create a nursing environment of excellence,” said Cheryl Young, TMC vice president and chief nursing officer.

“The effort has included not only hospital-wide initiatives, such as the full implementation of the electronic medical record, but a number of nurse-focused efforts,” she said, “such as our nursing councils and shared governance, our annual nursing report, and the nurse recognition you see in the Nursing Patio and Nursing Recognition Wall.”

As for Michael Lally, manager Unit 850, TMC’s neurology/neurosurgery floor, Young said, “you see excellence everyday on his unit. The support he gives to his staff and his patients is amazing.”

And the data backs this up, she said, noting continual improvements in patient satisfaction scores under his leadership.

Preceptor Payne honored as Neuro RN hero

Sunday was Nurses Day and the Arizona Neuroscience Nurse Hero Recognition Program at the Arizona Diamondback game in Phoenix.During the game, the Arizona Nurses Association honored four neuroscience nurses from throughout the state, including TMC’s own Susie Payne, RN, CNRN, and her TMC “fans” were there to cheer her on!

Payne has been a TMC neuroscience staff nurse for 23 years and is a persistent advocate for patients. She is a preceptor and uses her own new grad preceptor as a role-model. It was this preceptor who encouraged her to bestow her critical thinking and common sense to nurses just starting their career.

Payne is active in volunteer hospital activities, including our annual Stroke Check, Heart Check and Brain Week. She is also an active participant in planning the community-wise Neuroscience Symposium.

Also recognized were neuroscience nurses from Banner Del Webb Medical Center, Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, and Scottsdale Healthcare Hospital Osborn.

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461