It’s no secret that working in the pediatric oncology world has a lot of tough moments. We tend to see kids and families at their lowest points and we scramble to do everything we can to bring them out of the rubble. 12 hours, aka 13.5. That’s the time frame we have in a single day to lay it all out on the line for our patients and families. In that time frame, we probably feel at least 10 different emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly- but one thing has always remained true at the end of the shift- we get to go home and process the day.
Some days are nearly unbearable. You feel like you spent your entire shift advocating, scrambling, chasing your tail, holding your emotions in check and putting the needs of the patient FIRST.
Some days are a joy. You spend your day bonding, catching up on the few days you were off with the families who don’t get off days. You sing. You dance. You celebrate a child beating the hell out of cancer and you leave the day feeling FULL.
There is one thing that has always brought me incredible happiness and fulfillment during my shift…. when families bring back their children who have completed inpatient treatment. You see, we don’t forget about them when they walk off the unit for the last time. We don’t forget their laugh when they sneak up behind us to scare us or the way they pretended to sleep when they knew it was time for their medication. We haven’t forgotten you, either, families. The way you dread coming up for chemo admissions, but make the best of it anyway. The endless amounts of food you bring us (that’s how you know it’s real😉). How you remembered my dog’s name is Fynn and you always asked about him. We don’t forget you just because you walk out the door.
Bringing up your kids post-treatment is medicine to oncology staff. It reminds us when we see that beautiful head of hair and that central line free arms and chest that we’ve done something right. When we see the dark circles gone under your eyes because you’ve gotten a full weeks sleep all under the same roof- we smile because we played a part in that. My favorite is hearing a little squeal of “Nurse Erin!” as they coming running down the hallway with a slight trace of hair growing back and eyes that resemble a childhood that has started to resume.
To the families of warriors- thank you for loving us- for remembering us and for including us in your journey. You say you couldn’t do it without us, but your incredible child is what keeps us afloat. Thank you for bringing your warrior by to see us- it fills us up for the next not so easy day💛