Devoted husband, Albert Conner has accompanied his wife to the hospital for every test and doctor’s appointment, ever since his wife Kelly corner was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.
When Conner, a father of three, was told he would not be able to attend his wife’s chemotherapy appointment because of hospital restrictions due to COVID-19, he decided to support her in a different way.
Albert Conner, 44, held up a sign outside MD Anderson Cancer Center in Sugar Land, Texas, that read, “I can’t be with you but I’m here.” It also said “love you” and included a thank you to staff working inside the hospital’s walls.
“I didn’t feel right not being a part of it because I had promised her that I would be there every step of the way and I felt like I would be breaking my word,” Albert Conner said. “I just got a poster board and our kids and I colored it.”
Kelly Conner, 40, thought her husband was at home in Missouri City, Texas, because she had driven herself to the hospital after telling him she would be fine to go alone. She then got a message from him telling her that he was outside in the parking lot.
“As soon as he texted me, I just kind of lifted up in my chair a little bit to peer out the window and he was just right there,” she said. “It immediately brought tears to my eyes and I felt a love for him right then in that moment, that he would do that for me.”
“I think I kind of gasped and the nurse turned around and said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And then she saw I was looking out the window and she looked out and started to tear up too,” she recalled.
Albert Conner said several of the nurses walked outside to him to thank him for what he had done, knowing well they’d have to go through a screening process again to get back inside. “A few of them said I was the reason that they come to work,” he said. “The attention made me uncomfortable but it made me feel good and was very touching.”
Albert Conner said he made a poster board-size sign to show his wife how much he cares and says that it was just by luck that he parked outside the room several floors above where Kelly Conner happened to be assigned that day.
Kelly Conner’s chemotherapy sessions will continue through the end of May, after which she will undergo surgery and radiation. She will soon start a new chemotherapy drug which is more aggressive and will make each chemotherapy session longer.
The Conners were initially upset about the new Coronavirus rule of the hospital, but then understood its repercussion, “When you just reflect on everything and think about all the nurses and doctors and other patients, it makes perfect sense,” said Albert Conner. “You really can’t argue it. You just have to support it any way you can.”
Still, Albert Conner said he will find ways to support his wife, he recently closed his locksmith business to stay at home with his family and not endanger his wife, who is immunocompromised and is working from home for her job.
The family hopes they will be there when Kelly Conner rings the bell at the end of her chemotherapy treatments. And even if that does not happen, Albert Conner said he will ring a bell outside the hospital for her. “This [coronavirus pandemic] is inspiring people to come up with creative ways to continue to show their love and support for family,” said Kelly Conner.