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Julia was living in the United States with her husband and her family, but the rest of her extended family was still living in Ukraine when the country was invaded by Russia. After a lengthy and complex journey to get her parents out of Ukraine to join them in the United States, Julia’s father was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and started his treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center. Julia and her father were so grateful and appreciative for the care and support they received from Moffitt team members.


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Podcast Transcript

LOREEN: Welcome to Pep Talks, a Patient Experience podcast where we share stories of promise, our culture of connection and care.

It truly matters how we show up for our patients and their families. It makes all the difference in their journey with cancer.

In this podcast, you'll hear how a patient from Ukraine and his daughter Julia felt so supported and empowered because of the incredible care from our Moffitt team members. Julia was already living in the United States with her husband and her family, but the rest of her extended family still lived in Ukraine when the country was invaded by Russia. After the lengthy and complex journey to get her parents out of Ukraine to join them in the United States, Julia's father was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer. Listen to the ways we made a difference in this family's life as a result of our mother team members consistently delivering on the promise behaviors that create a connected and caring culture.

JULIA: Hello. My name is Julia. I am from Ukraine. We moved the United States in 2014 from the first Russian invasion to Ukraine. So I had a newborn baby. So we decided to move to the United States with my husband. But the rest of my family, my parents, my sister with her kids, they stay in Ukraine for all these years. And 2022 was the most challenging and difficult year for our family when the war started. My family live in a very small town in the Ukraine and my parents are under occupation for 30 days. We were lost in the beginning the mobile connections and Internet connections, and we didn't know how they are and their life are not alive. And when we were able to hear from them, we were the happiest people and we saw that, okay, that's it. We will take them to United States, everything to live. Fine. We'll start again and all the challenges in the past.

After one and a half months, we found out that my dad had cancer and they came as a refugee and they didn't have any health insurance. So everybody's looking at me and counting like what we will do. What next? Because in my family, I always tried to be positive, confident for them and say that will ever see the fine. But in that moment I was frightened as well because I didn't know what to do. One day I left the house in the morning and my mom called and said that the dad lost consciousness. I came home. I came back and rushed home and took him to another emergency room. And. I remember that I was on the parking lot, that parking lot I really remember for an entire life because sister go and cried and I cried.

 And in that moment, I like I can view anymore so strong. I'm just a little girl. I'm just his daughter. And I don't know what to do yet and started searching and Google oncologist near me and it was Moffitt Moffitt Center. And I called in and I was distracted. I was like frighten and call in like.

And I got a Gina on the call from International Department. She was so nice, kind, gentle. She started to register our case and she always was very professional. She's, like, always controlling our appointments. She always makes him feel so special. My dad always calls Gina my angel. Gina really have. And and gave me a home. I felt very secure and comfortable that now I know the doctors and I know our team and I know our treatments and even more that I can believe that. Moffitt Center gave us as a charity case. My my dad's case is a charity case. And I know that it's not just our case. And I really, really appreciate it's a huge for my family.

When we got all the lab results and we had a doctor's appointment of his Dr. Tan I asked my husband that he will go with my dad because I didn't know what I will hear, that it's better that my husband will hear. And he said, me and he came back. My husband said, You know, I don't wish that I have cancer, but if I would have, I would have wished Dr. Ten telling me about that because.  Because he was talking like actin. Not exaggerate situation and not frighten my dad, but he does was very honest, straightforward. And he said that you had a lung cancer stage four without treatment. You have six months. And he continued, What we can do with that?

 It's not just make a post and what do you feel? Yeah. Like we have a plan. We have. But I have a plan for you.

We can do this and we do that. And very important that my dad doesn't speak English and all doctors and nurses, especially our first visits make sure even when I was next to my dad and my husband and we could translate. But they always make sure that we use interpreter service and when they talk, they talk. Three of them. The Doctor ten is always looking at my dad is talking to him, looking at his eyes and the eye contact, making eye contact. And in the beginning my dad wasn't involved because I don't understand, I don't know English but a little bit later he used to that and he's like looking at Dr. Tan and talking back to him and you just can hear the voice of interpreter just between them. But yeah, I appreciate that. They always treat my dad and make him feel involved and special and that he's important. It's very and my dad is asking like, why? Why they don't use my husband on me as interpreter. And I said that they want to make sure that you are totally aware of the situation, that you totally understand what's going on, and that you will make your own decision related to your health that we can be next to you. But. But you are in charge. Yeah. Be honest. My dad never worked out, and now he's working out. He's like, he's in charge of his health here. He. He's fighting and we talk and everybody motivated him.

And so, yeah, I worried too that though I was back and forth running from home, from school and back, and one day I was late with his dinner and I came like already after nine or 10 p.m. and he was very excited and he said that, Oh, I have a new friend, I have Jana and I said who’s Yanna?. And he said, Oh, it’s our girl, it's our girl. And it's special because because of the situation between Ukraine and Russia, it's we have a very difficult and complex feelings about Russian people.

And after that, he met Yana, who is from Russia, but that Yana, as he used to see Russian people, nice, kind, and came and hugged him and sister and he explained to her that I am will be later. So she took him a sandwich and so that's why he was super happy and  been like our Yana. Our Yana. So you have him a lot. Yeah. When he stayed at the hospital and I felt even more comfortable that he has somebody it's even not about language, but about the comfort that she gives him. Like, and it doesn't matter your nationality if you do the kind stuff and nice to people.

People who work in here is every day you have another person who is a cancer who is struggling. And I saw that they still have this. They don't make this as like routine. Yeah. They still have that light and kindness to see you as a person and see your story that for you it's a huge today. Yeah. It's it's maybe the biggest challenge of your life.

I thought about Christmas, yet this Christmas was special time for my family and I thought about them.

All the people that gifted me the priceless bread. And for this Christmas, one more Christmas with my dad. One more Christmas with grandpa.

People are so dedicated, this process of recovery is you finding, but you are not alone. I don't know. I don't have enough words to express. What all people from the Moffitt Center made for my phone. Yeah, they know. Just do the work like everyday. Yeah, they do magic.

LOREEN: Thanks so much for listening. We hope you'll join us for our next episode of Pep Talks. Until then, keep living the promise.  

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