Thrive by IU Health

February 09, 2022

Patient holds tight to memories of a special nurse and hopes of a reunion

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Patient holds tight to memories of a special nurse and hopes of a reunion

It’s been more than two decades since she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. This patient holds onto hope that she can find a nurse she said saved her life.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

There have been Google searches, LinkedIn viewing, and other social media scrolling. Emails have been sent, and phone calls have been made.

But still, Lee Ann Martz is unable to find a special nurse that she says saved her life at IU Health Methodist Hospital 23 years ago. Why is she still looking?

“She never left my side. I would not be here if it weren’t for her,” said Martz. “As the years have gone by, I just can’t forget her and I keep hoping I can find her and tell her how much she means to me.”

It was August of 1999 when Martz, was diagnosed with primary primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs). The malignant form of cancer mostly occurs in children and young adults. The tumors are typically common in the trunk, limbs and abdomen. Martz was 23 and her tumors were located in her cervix. An August 2001 report by IU School of Medicine doctors of internal medicine, pathology, and hematology/oncology described Martz’ case in clinical detail. At the time, the article indicates there were only four reported cases of cervical PNET.

A graduate of Elwood High School, Martz was married at the age of 18. “I wanted to start a family right away and thank goodness I did or I may never have had the chance to become a mother.” She has an adult son and daughter.

It was when she was pregnant with a third child that her cancer was discovered. She was about six weeks along when a pelvic exam and ultrasound showed what was initially thought to be a fibroid. It took up most of her pelvic area, making it dangerous for her to carry a baby full term.

“I had a choice to carry the baby and risk that we both might die, or to terminate the pregnancy. I wanted to be here for my kids,” Martz said. She still gets emotional talking about the heartbreaking loss. It was July 23, 1999 – the day after her 24th birthday.

The mass and the pregnancy took so much out of Martz that she didn’t know if she would recover. She ended up at IU Health Methodist Hospital and that’s where she met the nurse she will never forget. At the time, Martz’ last name was “Yocum” and the nurse’ name was “Tiffany Meyers.” Martz reached out on social media to see if the nurse was still working at IU Health. There was no nurse by that name and even other nurses who worked at that time couldn’t place Meyers.

But that hasn’t stopped Martz from searching and hoping.

“I was in the hospital and went into the bathroom. I was losing so much blood, I didn’t think I could even stand on my own,” said Martz, now 46. “Tiffany went with me and the next thing I knew, I woke up surrounded by doctors and nurses. I was so scared and I told her she couldn’t leave me - that I have two little ones who need me. She never left my side the entire night,” recalls Martz.

After her diagnosis, Martz required blood transfusions and a uterine artery embolization to block the blood supply to the mass. Chemotherapy followed at IU Health Simon Cancer Center and then radiation. Once the mass shrunk to about the size of walnut, doctors performed surgery to remove all infected areas.

In May of 2000, doctors told Martz she was cancer free. Five years later, she was diagnosed with a grapefruit-size mass on her right ovary. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor and since then has enjoyed renewed health.

“It’s a miracle I am even here. I want so badly to find my nurse and to thank those who had a hand in saving my life,” said Martz. “I’ve spent a lot of years thinking and reflecting and I have to say, cancer absolutely changed my life. We take so much for granted but now, every breath, every day is a blessing.”

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Cancer

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