Blog Posts, Pediatric Cancer

The Happy Floor

Being a pediatric oncology nurse, you hear a lot of the same things. “That must be so sad, I don’t know how you do it” “How do you deal with kids dying everyday?” The truth is, this is one of the happiest places I’ve ever worked as a nurse. I have been settled into my nursing career for 5 years, working in three different specialties. The first one I worked on an ortho/neuro floor, the second I worked on an organ transplant floor and then I finally landed my dream job as a pediatric oncology nurse. Going into the job, I knew a lot of emotions would come with the territory. I thought I would be able to bring sunshine and happiness to the kids and their families, but little did I know they would bring me more sunshine and inspiration than I could ever bring them. You see, these kids go through HELL. They experience more in their short lives than I’ve experienced my whole life. Some of these kids take more medicine than grown adults at 2 years old. But what really knocks me off my feet? Their joy. Their smiles. Their resiliency. I’ve watched a grown man cry over getting a subQ shot and a 5 year old laugh through it. I’ve heard an 8 year old get excited for a fever because it meant she could spend one more day with her hospital friends. The thing is, these kids define their situations, they don’t let their situations define them.

Last week, we had a housekeeper on our unit that was filling in for our usual one. She was sweet and had a smile on her face all morning. Finally, she came up to me and another nurse and said “this is the happy floor!” I looked at her and asked her to repeat what she said. Again, she said, “This is the happy floor. Everyone up here is smiling and having fun… I want to be on this floor all the time!” That resonated with me. She didn’t see kids pulling IV poles with bald heads. She didn’t see toxins pumping through our precious kids… she saw smiles. And laughs. And joy. She saw nurses celebrating a bone marrow transplant. She saw doctors dressing up as clowns and having fun, feeling like we did the impossible. She saw families celebrating life with other families.

The truth is- that IS our floor. We ARE the happy floor. We celebrate hours of life, sometimes minutes. We watch families who feel like they have nothing left to give… give their smiles. I watch nurses who I thought built a wall up, cry over a child completing treatment. If there’s anything I’ve learned here, it’s that life is short. And precious. Oh it’s so precious. Bad things happen to REALLY good people. We try not to take things for granted, so we celebrate. We dress up, we laugh, we sing, we dance. Don’t sweat the small stuff and love with all you have. If you’re feelin down or like you have nothing left to give… check in on a child battling cancer, they’ll change your life forever.

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17 thoughts on “The Happy Floor”

  1. Thank you that warms my heart .My great grand son sweet Michael Reed is battling leukemia ,but I think he’s winning😊

    1. My wonderful, kind, courageous son had the GREATEST nurses @Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC during his two year adventure. Their caring made a HUGE difference to Joe – gave him strength to deal with chemo, surgeries, and all the other stuff. As a mother, I will be forever grateful to you special nurses that were our super heroes!

      1. Kathy,
        I remember Joe and loved him. He was so fun to take care of and have on the unit. It was also so neat to see the relationships he had with other patients. He was an amazing young man. Hugs to you!💓💓💓

  2. Erin- don’t know you but you have done our specialty proud and NAILED it! This is your floor, but it is our floor 6NE at Boston Children’s as well! Well done!

  3. Pam is so right! My son is a stage iv neuroblastoma survivor and having been treated on 6NE I can confidently say it IS the happy floor! <3

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Jacqui! Your son is an inspiration and kids like him make our job so much better 💛

  4. Amazed and stunned at the same time. You just described my Granddaughter’s Oncology unit on the 7th floor at Golisano Children’s Hospital, the staff and families we have met along the way ❤️

    1. Meg, I am so so sorry to hear of sweet Mitchell. I’m so glad you found comfort in your nurses and physicians. Being a pediatric oncology nurse is everything to me and I’m so grateful for my time with families going through the battle. Sending you so much love and strength.

  5. I have been bless to be in a position that I get to know some of the kids and family of P4. These kids have changed my life, they are all AMAZING. I try to put Smiles on their faces every chance I get but there the ones putting a Smile on my face.

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