A New Meaning to Being a Mom: Dr. Hinson
[Presented by Atrium Health Levine Children’s]
Being a mom with a child who has cancer changes you. Being a mom who treats those children with cancer changes you too. Follow along Mother’s Day week as we hear from some of our Levine Children’s cancer moms and their oncology care providers, who are moms as well. Listen to what Mother’s Day means to them. And how living through a pandemic impacts momlife.
- Mom: Dr. Ashley Hinson, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology
- Mom To: Cameron (9-years old); Raegan (7-years old); Payton (4-years old); Logan (2-years old)
- Length with Levine Children’s: 6 ½ years
What does Mother’s Day mean to you? How has caring for kids with cancer changed that meaning for you?
Since I was a little girl, there were 3 things I wanted to be: a wife, a mother, and a doctor. Each of these roles has been an incredible honor; and over time, each of them has molded who I am-and how I approach my other roles. I’m better because of each of them.
My mother was incredible. She taught me so much kindness, patience, and love; she challenged me and supported me. When I was in residency training, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. And when I was in fellowship (learning how to be an oncologist), she died–just 4.5 months after my first baby girl was born. Her journey is a part of who I am, and how I practice, and who I try everyday to be. She was so brave, just like all these sweet cancer patients and their mamas we see and treat. So Mother’s Day is always full of mixed emotions for me. I miss her. I wish she was here-sharing in my joy and my challenges. I wish my girls knew her. I know she knows them. So there’s that bittersweet part. And then there’s the part of Mother’s Day where I’m simply in awe that God chose me to love and guide these 4 beautiful little girls. They have each brought me indescribable joy from their very first breaths; and I am so grateful for the honor of being their mom.
I’m not sure caring for kids with cancer has changed my meaning of Mother’s Day per se. But, caring for kids with cancer has certainly impacted how I mother. I love coming to work everyday. I am truly humbled by the opportunity to walk through such difficult times with our patients and their families, and to get to know them so deeply. I am continually amazed by the strength and power and bravery the kids show. The mothers though–the intensity of their love–is inspiring. I try to take time to notice it, to honor it. So when I come home, I bring all of that with me. I don’t sweat the small stuff–ever! I’m a total sucker for giving in to mini bundt cakes on the way home from school, or LOL dolls they definitely don’t need, and I try really really hard to say yes more than I say no (not just to things, but to activities, or late night crafts, or sleepovers in our bedroom). Because all of these tiny heros and their mothers are showing me that life is precious and time is a gift. I’m trying to soak it in.
**In full disclosure, I do still say no a lot-because I’m human and I get grumpy, and let’s face it a girl needs to sleep sometimes.
How has the current pandemic impacted you being a mom?
In our practice, we have been rotating our providers to keep on-site staff minimal but continue to care for our patients. So some weeks I have been in clinic or in the hospital, and some weeks I have worked from home; doing visits and follow ups and meetings virtually or by phone. (I very rarely get to do this usually unless I’m on vacation). The pandemic has been a gift in many ways. While it’s a wild and loud crazy place at our house, with all these children in the house ALL. THE. TIME., I have loved having extra time to work with them on schoolwork and to just BE WITH THEM. On a usual basis, we are always on the go. Between work (my husband is an attorney) and school and dance class, and music lessons, and soccer–whew! It’s nuts. We rush, rush, rush all week long. Usually we are spread apart at different activities until just before bedtime or working on homework until way past an acceptable bedtime for an elementary school child. The calm has been a welcome little “pause” to the crazy. We’ve gotten to take so many walks, and we’ve watched SO many movies, baked a lot of sweets, and done a ridiculous number of crafts. I have really appreciated and enjoyed this unexpected time to be home and be a mother.
How has it impacted the way you care for cancer patients and their moms?
As part of the leadership team of the Levine Children’s hematology and oncology division, we have spent a lot of time thinking about COVID-19. Our goal every day-pandemic or otherwise-has been to provide the best possible care to our patients and their families, safely. We’ve had to be very flexible and very creative. I think we’ve learned a lot, and I think we’ll emerge better and stronger than before we knew anything about COVID-19.
What about this time has inspired you?
No matter the obstacles in front of them, good people will rise up. There is always light in the darkness, and this pandemic has been no different. I have been inspired by so many things:
- The patients who keep coming in, fighting their hardest day in and day out
- The mothers and fathers who are taking such good care of their children at home, and giving them so much healing love and support
- The scientists around the whole world who are working together to find treatments and vaccines for the virus
- The entire healthcare community who is walking right into the fire every shift, because we love our patients
- Our team at Levine’s has been really incredible. People are working together, covering for each other, supporting each other, trying all kinds of new things, and adapting to constant and rapid change. I have been so proud to be part of the Levine Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders group and Atrium Health.
Featured Moms this week:
If you are looking for a way to honor a mother in your life, make a monthly donation that keeps on giving. Support research that will help create better treatments and outcomes for kids with cancer in honor of Mom! Donate Now.
**Disclaimer: photos featured were taken before masking and social distancing guidelines were in place.