I have been a registered nurse since 1969 and currently I am a spokesperson for the National Association of Prolife Nurses (www.nursesforlife.org). I have also been a past President of Missouri Nurses for Life and past co-chair of the St. Louis Archdiocesan Respect Life Committee.
In 2015, I was honored to receive the People of Life award from the US Catholic Conference of Bishops.
After working in critical care, hospice, home health, oncology, dialysis and other specialties for 45 years, I am currently working as a legal nurse consultant (www.valkogroupalnc.com) and volunteer.
I have served on medical and nursing ethics committees and give speeches and workshops around the country on medical ethics issues. I have also served on the board of the Saint Louis Down Syndrome Association in the past and I am still active in the field of disability advocacy. I have worked as a volunteer for children with disabilities, people with severe brain injuries, and bereaved parents.
I have also appeared on many radio and television shows on various medical, ethical and pro-life topics and I have written on these topics for The National Catholic Register, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, First Things magazine, Magnificat and other publications. I was also contributing editor for Voices magazine, a publication of Woman for Faith and Family until it ceased publication in 2014.
I have personally cared for many relatives with a variety of physical or mental disabilities, including my mother with Alzheimer’s and terminal cancer and a daughter, Karen, who was born with Down Syndrome and a severe heart defect. Although both are now deceased, the influence of my mother and daughter has positively motivated my activities in medical ethics and working for greater support for people and families dealing with such issues as disabilities, chronic illness and terminal conditions.
In 1984 after our Karen’s death, I suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks. My 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter were devastated and since we did not know the sex, I had them each pick a name. Naming Jeff Candy helped but then they questioned why that baby did not have a funeral like their sister. Good question!
I brought this up to my mentor Fr. Joe Naumann (now archbishop of Kansas City) when he headed the St. Louis Archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee and the next thing I knew, I wound up on a committee. Now we have “The Order for the Naming and Commendation for an Infant Who Died Before Birth“ (copyright 1989). I am so proud of the results of my children’s long-ago question!
I was divorced for 20 years (and after an annulment) before marrying my wonderful husband Kevin Scannell in June, 2008 and we live in St. Louis, Mo. Together, we are blessed with 4 living children and 4 grandchildren.
In 2009, I lost my beautiful 30 year old daughter Marie to suicide and in 2012, Kevin and I lost our 6 year old grandson Noah to a rare autoimmune disease called HLH.