A Pennsylvania oncology nurse stepped up in a big way when her terminally ill patient asked if she could adopt her only son when she died. Tricia Seaman was a nurse at Pinnacle Health Community General in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when she first met Tricia Somers, a single mom to her then eight-year-old son, Wesley.
The nurse of over two decades was assigned to care for the latter in March 2014. “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.”
Somers, then 45, was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer the year before. 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.
During those visits, the oncology nurse learned that Somers had a young son, and that she was a single parent who had moved to Harrisburg to escape domestic violence. Both her parents had passed away from cancer.
Somers stayed at the hospital for three weeks and discovered that she was terminal by the end of it. With no other support system to rely on, she turned to her favorite oncology nurse to ask her the unthinkable.
“When I die, will you and your husband take my son?” Seaman recalled Somers asking her on the last day of her hospital stay. Seaman said the request shocked her and asked the ailing mother to think carefully 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 her husband Dan share three daughters and one son. After four children, the couple were ready to add another family member through adoption. They had been approved as foster parents the year before, but nothing ever came their way.
After making the request, the two families began spending more time together. Somers and Wesley came to stay with the Seamans over Mother’s Day weekend in 2014. “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.”
When Somers began to undergo grueling chemotherapy, she became too weak to take Wesley to school or even stand up. That’s when Seaman asked the mother-and-son to move in with them. Doing so also gave the young boy a chance to adjust to a larger family.
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.
But Somers and Wesley soon became an integral part of their family. They even went on vacations together and made plenty of wonderful memories. On December 7, 2014, Somers passed away at the Carolyn Croxton Slane Hospice Residence. According to plan, the Seamans took guardianship of Wesley. They shared legal custody with Wesley’s biological dad, who is granted visitation rights. They see each other twice a 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.” Wesley, now 16, already has a learner’s permit. Before Somers died, she bought gifts for him to open as he got older. Most recently, it was a key chain for when he gets his first car. In little ways like this, Seaman and Somers are still raising him together.
And their teamwork seems to be paying off because Wesley is a straight-A student and model child, according to Seaman.
“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.”
You can learn more about their story in the video below.
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