Helen Croke Juanita Hayman (left) and Helen Croke, right Helen Croke's Week-at-a-Glance calendar, August 22, 1949

Born: c. 1909

Died: January 26, 1950

Helen Croke was a tuberculosis patient at Trudeau Sanatorium in the late 1940s. We sometimes think that the development of Streptomycin was the end of tb, but for patients with advanced cases, Streptomycin came too late to effect a cure.


The following account was written by Janet Dudones:

Helen Croke graduated from Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City in the class of 1929 with my mother, Juanita Hayman. Like my mother, she contracted tuberculosis, and came to cure at Trudeau. But, unlike my mother, she continued to relapse, until she died of TB in early 1950.

A comment on the back of a photo of Helen and Mom indicates that Helen came to Trudeau before Mom did. She may have come to Saranac Lake before graduating from Bellevue, but that is not clear.

Helen and my mother were very close friends until Helen died. Helen's appointment book/diary of part of the last year in her life is enclosed, as are references to her in many letters from my father and Pat Rogers Martin to Mom. Pat cured with both Helen and my Mom, and they had many mutual friends from that time with whom they kept in contact.

The appointment book begins with a list of people she knew; some were in Saranac Lake, the rest from other places.

Helen worked in New York City, although she was originally from Massachusetts. On August 15, she was in Saranac Lake for tests. She met with Dr. Woodruff, who was the surgeon here. My mother was the nurse in his office. On August 15, she had a bronscopy at the hospital. Over the next few days she saw my mother, Sully, Pearl Tubbs (Tubby, another nurse) and Fran and Steve Waltien, Jr. After curing, the Waltiens also stayed in Saranac Lake. Helen had other tests, consulted with doctors and visited with my family (NEJ is Nita, Ed and Janet). Helen returned to NY about August 30.

She "stopped work left for Saranac" on Sept 24. Here she started on PAS and Streptomycin. October 6 she had surgery for 5 1/2 hours (maybe a lung lobectomy, it's mentioned on August 22). Afterwards, she was running a fever, and had a transfusion on October 11. Since 9/25 she had lost 9 lbs, according to a chart in the book, and her note on Oct 20. The next day she was taken to Trudeau by ambulance. Through this whole section from August on she lists the drugs she is taking.

Entries are sparse from then until November 21 when she notes that her brother John arrived. She was in the hospital, due to have surgery on November 22. The operation could not be finished, as the doctors found she had an infection. Her entry for November 24 reads: "Thanksgiving Woody (Dr Woodruff) drove me to Luddington (the infirmary at Trudeau) @ noon. Finally broke down and wept."

Helen's weight continued to drop. There are no entries around the Christmas season. December 28 she stopped taking the TB drugs. The last note is January 26, 1950 (the day she died) that she weighed 120 lbs. Following this is an address book of her mostly her out of town friends, and notes about her Bellevue Nursing School class reunion that she had worked on.

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