Thomas Nims, M.D.- A Tribute
May 7, 1940- November 8, 2015
Last year I had the honor of being Dr. Nims’ hospice nurse. Dr. Nims had spent many years diagnosing, counseling, and watching his patients die of cancer. Ironically, it would be cancer that would end his life.
During my first visit with Dr. Nims he shared that he had always been a big supporter of hospice. When he started on hospice services he was still ambulatory and able to do most of what was “normal” for him. He half-jokingly commented that he felt like he had decided to elect for hospice care too soon. As the months passed he become appreciative of the extended time in hospice. He felt it was a great benefit to he and his wife, Jan, and shared he had even a greater appreciation for all that hospice had to offer patients at the end of life.
Dr. Nims’ understood a great deal about dying from his years in oncology so he had a clear picture in his mind of what he wanted his last days and his death to look like. He took care of his funeral, financial and estate planning early in the process and shared with Jan specifics of what he did and didn’t want in terms of care and treatment. Jan had been his nurse and manager in his office and was wonderful at navigating his care and symptom management. She knew when to nudge him and when to back-off. It was a beautiful site to see how beautifully they managed his care and “worked” together. Most importantly, Jan respected and followed his wishes regarding his care regardless of how she may have felt about them.
It was an incredible blessing to be a part of the last chapter in Dr. Nims’ life. It was inspiring to see the Nims’ live-out the nearly perfect picture of what hospice, death & dying can be. Every time I left their home I couldn’t help but feel touched by their courage, strength and love for life and each other. Although it was a time fraught with grief and a loss too soon to come, they walked the journey together with grace and dignity. Dr. Nims’ was a man larger than life. He will be greatly missed by all the lives he touched: his wife, family, friends, colleagues, his patients…and me.
Many thanks to Jan for giving permission to share my reflections as Dr. Nims' nurse and to use Dr. Nims' writings as blogs on this website. He had written these as articles for local newspapers during his career, as a service to the community.
Originally from Troy Ohio, Dr. Nims got his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, execelling academically and on the basketball court. He earned his medical degree from The Ohio State University.
Following an internship in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Dr. Nims served as a Captain in the Army in a surgical hospital in Viet Nam. It was during that time that he developed an interest in surgery and returned to Columbus in 1969 where he completed a four year surgical training program at Riverside Hospital.
Early in his surgical practice, Dr. Nims became interested in the management of cancer patients. He did his surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York City.
He began the Surgical Oncology Program at Grant Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio and worked in the Medical Education Department as Director of Surgery, teaching and training new residents. He also had a private practice in Surgical Oncology for many years.
Later in his career, he specialized in breast cancer and began the Breast Cancer Fellowship Program at Grant MC. He was a gifted surgeon and caring physician establishing deep relationships with his patients.