Oncology nurse fulfills dying patient’s wish to take in her young son when she died

A Pennsylvania oncology nurse was able to help a terminally ill patient ask if she could adopt her son.

Tricia Seaman worked as a nurse at Pinnacle Health Community General, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She first met Tricia Smers, a single mom to Wesley, eight years ago.

The care of the latter was taken over by a nurse for more than two decades in March 2014.

Tricia Seaman

“She referred to me as her angel and said I was sent to help her and her son,” Seaman told PEOPLE. “Tricia told me that the first time I walked in to take care of her, she just felt warm and at peace. She knew I was the one.”

The year before, Somers, now 45, was diagnosed as having rare liver cancer. Although she was in recovery at the time, her doctors weren’t optimistic about her life expectancy.

The two women hit it off instantly, and although Seaman wasn’t assigned as Somers’ nurse again after their first meeting, she frequently popped into her room to check on her.

Tricia Somers inside her room

During these visits, Somers’ oncology nurse discovered that Somers was the mother of a young boy and that she was a single mother who had moved from Harrisburg to escape domestic violence. Both her parents had died from cancer.

Somers stayed in the hospital for three more weeks, and she discovered that she was already terminal. She had no other support system and turned to her favorite oncology nursing to ask the impossible.

“When I die, will you and your husband take my son?” Seaman recalled Somers asking her on the last day of her hospital stay.

The oncology nurse doing her rounds

Seaman told her that she was shocked by the request and asked her mother to think about it.

But as sad as she was about the situation, Seaman couldn’t help but wonder if this was meant to be.

Seaman and Dan, her husband, have three daughters and one boy. After four children, the couple was ready to adopt another member of their family. They had been approved for foster parents the previous year, but nothing happened to them.

The two families began spending more quality time together after they made the request. Somers and Wesley came to stay with the Seamans over Mother’s Day weekend in 2014.

Tricia Somers siting on the couch with her son

“It was pretty clear after the visit [that Wesley] was going to fit great,” Seaman said. “We just loved being with Trish and she enjoyed being with us.”

Somers was unable to stand or take Wesley to school after she had undergone grueling chemotherapy. That’s when Seaman asked the mother-and-son to move in with them. The young boy was able to adjust to a larger household by asking Seaman.

Seaman admitted it was hard initially, with her and Somers being “complete opposites.”

“They had a flexible schedule, but with a large family, you have to have mealtime, you have to have bed time,” the nurse said.

Somers and Wesley became an integral part the family. They went on wonderful vacations together, and made many wonderful memories.

Somers died at the Carolyn Croxton Slane hospice Residence on December 7, 2014. According to plan the Seamans assumed guardianship over Wesley. They shared legal custody with Wesley’s biological dad, who is granted visitation rights. They see each others twice a calendar year.

“God has this planned perfectly, there was a reason I was Tricia’s nurse,” said Seaman. “I feel so blessed to have known her and now have the privilege to raise her son.”

Tricia Seaman an oncology nurse and Wesley

Wesley, now 16, already has a learner’s permit. Before Somers’ death, she bought gifts for her son to open as they grew up. It was a keychain that was used to secure his first car. Seaman and Somers continue to raise him together in small ways.

Seaman said that Wesley is a straight-A student who is a model child and that their teamwork seems to have paid off.

“He’s exceptional. But the most important thing is he just has such a kind and loving heart,” she said.

The oncology nurse retold their journey in the book “God Gave Me You,” which she described as a “story you can turn to again and again when you’re looking for hope, inspiration, and a reason to believe in miracles.”

The video below explains more about their story.

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