Longtime WRMC employee encounters change in perspective after illness

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As a longtime employee of White River Medical Center (WRMC), Justin Meskimen sees firsthand the impact the hospital has on patients. He never imagined that he would, one day, be entering the building for treatment instead of work, and viewing colleagues as caregivers. Meskimen also never imagined that one day, instead of depending on WRMC to make a living for his family, he would suddenly have to depend on the facility to save his life.

For weeks, Meskimen had been seeing a chiropractor for what he believed was simple but consistent back pain; however, he could find no relief from his treatments. He decided to go to his primary care doctor. After reviewing his MRI, the culprit was discovered. At the young age of 28, Justin Meskimen was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

“Time just froze for me,” he said. Fortunately, his doctor knew the next steps to take. Justin was referred to Dr. Muhammed Khan, an oncologist at Batesville Oncology, a WRMC specialty clinic.

When Meskimen walked into Dr. Khan’s office for the first time, his thoughts were still cloudy. As a man of faith, Meskimen knew this was something he could not process or fight without divine help.

“I had God on my side, and that was my driving factor,” he said. He also credits support from his family, especially his wife, Catie, who is a nurse at WRMC.

The first visit with Dr. Khan brought Justin comfort. The oncologist focused on treating the physical and mental effects caused by cancer, and Meskimen noted he could see the concern and compassion in Dr. Khan’s eyes. Meskimen, at this point, knew he was where he wanted to be to receive his treatment.

With knowledge from his physician along with support from his family and his faith, Meskimen knew it wouldn’t be easy — but he was ready to face it head-on. The plan of treatment involved three months of chemotherapy. He knew his first treatment would be one of many to fight through.

Yet, seemingly worse than treatment were the thoughts in his mind.

“Constantly fighting your deepest thoughts and fears is something I would never wish upon anyone,” said Meskimen.

Every time Meskimen walked into the Batesville Oncology Clinic, he felt his hope being renewed. The staff at the Batesville Oncology Clinic heavily supported his fight. The staff walked with him through his journey. They were like family. As he continued treatment, he noticed he was not the only person that felt this way. Every patient who stepped foot in the facility received this same care and left feeling a little stronger each day.

“Something about their support and positive attitude just helps make you stronger,” said Meskimen. “They give you hope.”

Batesville Oncology Clinic was instrumental in starting a foundation called Ribbons of Hope. The funds from the Ribbons of Hope foundation are used to help patients and their family with travel and other costs associated with treatment. Ironically, Meskimen always made it a priority to give to foundations such as Ribbons of Hope. He knew the contribution would go toward helping others. He didn’t realize he would one day be the person being helped.

Today, Meskimen is proud to say he is cancer-free. He credits God, his wife, his family, and the support from Dr. Khan and the staff at the Batesville Oncology Clinic.

“I’m proud to say I have beaten cancer, but I will never forget the struggle, and support that helped me get where I am,” he said.

Meskimen is back at work at WRMC. These days, he sees his place of employment through an entirely different perspective. The facility is not just his place of work; it is now his greatest resource. And the colleagues who turned into caregivers, well, they are now friends.

Justin_CatieCatie and Justin Meskimen stand holding a prayer quilt that Catie’s co-workers presented to them before Justin’s fourth round of chemo. / Image via White River Medical Center

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