Super cake: 9100 receives special thank you from a patient

Resident Ryan Huey snapped a photo of the cake just before staff began to dig in. (Click the photo for a closer look.)

One year ago, Jim and Susan Sabiston began their journey with Duke Medicine. Jim Sabiston has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stayed at Duke University Hospital for three months after he was initially admitted last October.

The Sabistons, who live in Rocky Mount and serve on the National Board of Advisors for Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, have made many trips to Duke in the last year. They were back last week as Jim prepares for a stem cell transplant.

To say ‘thank you’ to the staff of the 9100 oncology unit that has taken care of them over the past year, Susan Sabiston baked and decorated a four-layer cake that she delivered with her daughter on Oct. 18.

Susan, who bakes as a hobby and taught herself to decorate cakes over the last year, decorated each layer with a different design. One layer is decorated with inspirational words and phrases, such as “hope,” “find a cure” and “survivor,” and the cake includes figures made of fondant that look like doctors and nurses who have cared for Jim. Each cake layer is a different flavor: orange spice, red velvet pound cake, vanilla buttercream and “chocolate celebration.”

“The care that he’s received has extended way beyond hooking up an IV or giving a shot,” she said. “They really care about the patients and want the best. The cake was a way for us to give back.”

Susan recalls how staff at Duke have helped them this year. She said once when she had ordered the wrong wound dressing online, she called a staff member at Duke who put together a bag of supplies and had them shipped overnight so Susan would have them the next day when she needed them.

The Sabistons also had a visit last week from members of the Duke women’s basketball team. Jim, who is a supporter and fan of the team, said he receives daily text messages and emails from players with words of encouragement. He hung up a poster of the women’s basketball team in his room last year that has motivated him to get better: “It gave me such inspiration that those women would think of me,” he said. “I’ve been so inspired by so many people. I can’t let these people down.”

The Sabistons said they have been overwhelmed by the kindness and quality of care they have received at Duke.

“We’re so appreciative of Duke providing world-class doctors and nurses, how professional they are, willing to stay hour after hour,” Jim said. “The cake is meant to brighten their day.”

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