While every gesture of appreciation from patients means a great deal to staff at VGH, Nash Braun wanted his thank you to be extra eye-catching and meaningful — for staff and fellow patients.
Earlier this month Nash, a 24-year old survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, placed a hard-to-miss sign on the upper level railing of the parkade on 12th Avenue facing Centennial Pavilion that read: “Thank You T15, CP6 and Ismet For Saving My Life.”
The very public nature of the thank you was deliberate, says Nash, who had just completed two years of treatment at the hospital.
“I had already given cards to people so I wanted this to be significant and more of a statement,” says a talkative Nash.
“I had an idea but it was my mom who came up with the premise so I said ‘Yeah, let’s do it’ so off we went to the sign shop who gave the sign to us at cost,” he says. “I wanted the hospital staff to be able to see it all day and also for the patients to look out and see something cool and positive. I wanted to show patients in particular I made it. I survived.”
Nash, who was studying for his aircraft structures technician certificate at the University of the Fraser Valley when he was diagnosed in March 2013, has nothing but high praise for the care and emotional support he received at VGH, especially from staff at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit (T15) and BMT Day Clinic (CP6).
“The care was absolutely top notch and could not have been better,” says Nash, who entertained staff with his neon sneakers and cat stories. “They were like my family. I had a lot of complications and was in the hospital often so I got to know the staff quite well. The nurses were just phenomenal.”
Dr. Ismet Tejpar (the “Ismet” mentioned in the sign) was speechless when she saw Nash’s sign hanging off the parkade railing.
“I thought how incredibly sweet it was of Nash to do this,” says Ismet, who oversaw his outpatient treatment. “Nash was always appreciative during his treatment and never took his care for granted. This sign was certainly a unique and memorable way of saying thank you… and [such gestures] help to keep spirits up and motivate us to continue to do the best we can for our patients during their formidable journeys through their treatments.”
The last two years of Nash’s life were indeed challenging times. Here was an active, outgoing, young man who unexpectedly faced a life-threatening diagnosis that required intensive treatments and almost daily visits to the hospital for weeks.
“But he somehow held on with an inner strength and showed tremendous resilience and strength of spirit, which I found remarkable coming from someone so young,” says Ismet. “He went through uncomfortable procedures and during them would chat away to me trying to make me feel better about what I was doing to him.”
Patient care coordinator Valerie Burke was equally stunned by Nash’s thank you sign.
“It was a delightful acknowledgement of a lot of the hard work the staff put into his care and to have it made in such a public way was very touching,” says Valerie. “Our staff is dedicated and the care Nash received is the care we give all our patients.”
With his treatment now over, Nash is putting his classes on hold while he works on regaining his stamina by doing what he loves — working out at the gym. Small steps, he says, and he looks forward to shredding the slopes of Whistler on his trusty snowboard this winter.
In the meantime, the 6’1’’, 185-pound poetry-loving Nash is honing his guitar and piano-playing chops while writing some rap songs and music – and appreciating everyone who was part of his care at VGH.
But there’s just one more person he can’t forget to thank.
“Without my mom I don’t think I would have made it — she was my cornerstone,” says Nash. “She needs a big vacation.”