Leading up to a recent surgery, Brenda Marosvari had some doubts about whether she really wanted to go through with it.
“It was an elective surgery, and I was kind of torn, because here we have a pandemic going on,” Marosvari said. “So, I was wondering, ‘Do I really want to do this?’”
But, in the end, Marosvari went through with the surgery. The nurse who helped her with her pre-operative care that day was Kari Keene.
“(Keene) was getting me ready, and I was kind of nervous because I had never been through a full-fledged surgery like that,” Marosvari said. “At one point she just said to me, ‘Have you had that mole checked?’”
Keene chuckled when reminded of that moment.
Marosvari, 56, was born and raised in Idaho. She admits that she loves being in the sun and being outdoors. She also admits that she later realized – with the pandemic going on and life’s other distractions – she hadn’t seen her dermatologist in about 18 months.
Based on Keene’s recommendation, Marosvari immediately made an appointment with her dermatologist.
“She said, ‘Yeah, that has changed, and we need to do a biopsy,’” Marosvari said.
A couple days later Marosvari learned that she had melanoma.
“But it was caught at its earliest stages, and my dermatologist rescheduled their week to get me right in,” she said. “They removed the mole and sent it in. The results came in and the margins were good.”
Marosvari made a point of getting in touch with St. Luke’s and relaying her story.
“As I was going through this, I thought, ‘I have to get word to St. Luke’s,’ because she didn’t have to tell me that,” Marosvari said. “She could have just thought to herself, ‘It’s not my business.’ And this thing was on my chest. It was in front of me every day, but it just wasn’t on my radar.”
Madelaine Ryan, a fellow nurse who has worked with Keene for about three years, heard about Marosvari’s story during a monthly staff meeting, and she said it made a big impression on her. She made sure to tell everyone she could about it.
“I just thought, ‘This is a huge deal,’” Ryan said. “It’s life-changing. … Melanoma can spread everywhere. She really changed someone’s life.”
Keene’s supervisor, Christina Sweeney, said Keene deserves plenty of accolades – and not just for her interaction with Marosvari.
“She has one of the most positive attitudes, all the time,” Sweeney said of Keene. “We know it can be a little crazy, a little chaotic, in our departments. But she always has such a positive attitude, with a smile on her face.
“If I could clone her, I would in a heartbeat.”
Those prospective clones could only hope to have the same staying power: Keene has worked at St. Luke’s for 38 years. Keene graduated with a degree in nursing from Boise State and St. Luke’s was her first job out of college.
And Keene said she still enjoys the nursing life.
“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here,” she said. “I work with amazing people. I love all the people I work with, and that definitely helps create an awesome work environment, when you have a great team and you trust the people you work with.
“Plus, I get satisfaction out of taking care of my patients. … I just really like helping people.”
People like Marosvari.
“I have thought about this a lot,” Marosvari said. “It’s been such a challenging year for everybody – especially people in health care – and I’m just thankful for that group of people. I’m also thankful that (Keene) is getting a bit of recognition, because she could have changed my life in a big way.”
And the way Marosvari sees it, a little divine intervention can also go a long way.
“I’m a faithful person, and I thought, ‘You know what? I think I was meant to go in there, and I was meant to see her,” she said. “Sometimes you’re given guardian angels, and you have to be really thankful. … She’s just a sweet guardian angel that I will never forget.”
More than 5 million skin cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Skin cancer is America’s most common cancer. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
For more information about skin cancer, go to skincancer.org.
Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.