Sometimes the beauty that comes out of a difficult medical diagnosis is a lifelong friendship with a healthcare provider. That was the case for Community’s own cardiac sonographer Robyn Nachtigall-Hill and her boss Joy Guthrie.
Robyn and Joy are sonographers at Community Regional Medical Center. Today, they’re not only colleagues, they’re friends. But their story goes way back – back to when Robyn was a child.
Robyn said, “I had bone cancer when I was 12 and medical imaging was a huge tool in the diagnosis of my cancer.”
When young Robyn received treatment for Ewing’s Sarcoma – a type of bone cancer found primarily in children – it was Joy who did a majority of the imaging on Robyn’s heart.
Joy stated, “When you undergo chemotherapy, part of it is to keep assessing the function of the heart as they’re giving the drugs over a period of time. So, many times the children have to have multiple echocardiograms.”
The two formed a friendship.
“From the beginning, Joy and I have had this bond… I can’t even describe the relationship that we have, it’s just special,” said Robyn.
Their bond left such an impression on Robyn’s heart, she was inspired to become a sonographer just like Joy.
Robyn added, “The best part about being a sonographer is the ability to help patients, hands down. I want to be a part of a team that makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Fast forward 20 years, Robyn beat the cancer, and was pregnant with her second child. It was a Friday and she and Joy both were working a long day. At 20 weeks gestation, Robyn said she noticed she was leaking fluid. Concerned, she turned to Joy.
Joy said, “To my surprise, her cervix, you know what keeps the baby inside of the uterus is the cervix, and it needs to be intact and it needs to not be shortening and that type of thing, and to my shock and our dismay, it was totally open.”
Robyn was rushed to the triage area of labor and delivery and was ordered to be on bed rest. But two weeks later, she started contracting. She gave birth to her baby girl Reagan at nearly 23 weeks.
“She was born one pound, seven ounces and twelve inches. But the minute I saw her, I just had this hope, that I knew that God was going to take care of her,” Robyn said.
Joy was going to take care of Reagan too, just like she took care of Robyn all those years ago.
Robyn added, “From the beginning, the first day, I said any ultrasound exam that Reagan has, I would love Joy to do because she can do all of it and I trust her and I just love her so much that I wanted her to take care of reagan.”
Reagan was in the neonatal intensive care unit for five months and had an uphill battle, including a small brain bleed. But Reagan already had something in common with both her mother and Joy – she was a fighter.
“I’m a premature infant, I was three pounds when I was born, that’s how I got my name. It was a ‘Joy’ that I lived,” commented Joy.
Reagan’s brain hemmorage resolved on its own and now she’s a thriving little girl, with her own story of survival just like her mother.
Joy ended, “I have never met someone so, you know, it’s totally grace under fire, you know? And you can put any obstacle in front of her and somehow she still rises above. I mean she’s that person that we can all emulate and just try to be.”
For more information on Community’s sonography training programs, click here.