Stony Brook nurses plan, host romantic dinners for oncology patients

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Kristin Thorne has the story of the sweet surprise for patients at Stony Brook University Hospital. (WABC)

The hospital is not not exactly the place you think of when it comes to romance, but a group of nurses at Stony Brook University Hospital are providing a sweet surprise for patients.

They are served up a delicious meal, with roses and champagne flutes, all to share with their special someone.

It's the newest place on Long Island for couples to reconnect, to reminisce over a meal about the good times, and to look forward to new memories.

And all the magic happens in the hospital's oncology unit.

"I went into a patient's room one day, he'd been here for a few months, he seemed kind of down," nurse Maggie Knight said. "I walked out and I thought, man, we have to make him feel more at home. So how about a date night?"

And ever since then, the staff and nurses have been pitching in their own money to transform their patients' suites into a surprise romantic dinner setting, complete with music, decorations and food from the couple's favorite restaurant.

"We close the door, and we leave a little 'do not disturb' sign on the door for an hour or two," Knight said. "And we hope they have a good time."

Patient John Horgan and his wife of 48 years were recently chosen for date night. Just recounting the story brought tears to his eyes.

"I was only the second one they picked so far," he said. "So of course it made me feel even better."

And they've thought of everything down to the smallest detail. For example, people undergoing chemotherapy can't be around real flowers, so they use fake ones instead.

"It allows them to smile and to laugh and to not really feel like a patient," social worker Nicole Wood said. "More like themselves, like a person again."

And Meg Pearse says that's exactly what it did for her and her husband Richard. He had been battling lymphoma, but is now cancer free.

"It was just quiet time for us to sit and talk over dinner, which we hadn't done, and forget about what had just happened for three weeks," she said.

And it leaves all the patients with something quite unique -- a happy memory in their battle against cancer.

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