Recently I was talking with someone who doesn’t know me very well and they asked if I see myself in oncology nursing for the rest of my career. I answered honestly – I can’t imagine my career without working with cancer patients in some way, shape, or form. I truly do love what I do. Even when the world seems to be crashing, I can’t catch up, my feet ache, my brain hurts, I’m sobbing over exhaustion, or I’m sobbing over grief. I was made to do this. I’m not exactly sure when cancer patients became a passion of mine – it was more something that seems to have been weaved into the soul of who I am made to be.
It’s World Cancer Day. So what does World Cancer Day mean to me? It means that I’m fighting for each of my grandparents, my uncle, the close family friends who are fighting or have lost their battles to cancer, and for each of my patients past and present. It means I’m learning the most I can day in and day out to help the patients I work with get through their treatments the best way they can. It means that I am standing up and fighting, but that isn’t always in the same way. Sometimes fighting is telling a patient that chemo sucks, but I have seen it work and will walk with them through it. Sometimes it is encouraging the patient who is doing well. Sometimes it’s crying with a patient over a bad scan and now a new treatment plan. Sometimes it is dancing with a patient over a good scan or completing chemo. Sometimes it is a victory hug making it through one more day of chemo. And sometimes standing up and fighting means quietly sitting with a patient as they accept this part of their battle is over, that it is time to live their final days.
I wish I could put into words the absolutely amazing gift my jobs is. That you could walk with me as I think back through each patient and family who has molded me and shaped me into who I am today. I love more deeply, I care with greater depth, every breath is more sacred, and my time spent with loved ones more cherished. World Cancer Day to me means an opportunity to recognize some of the fiercest fighters and bravest people I’ve ever met. It means I get to reflect on how much I learn from these incredible warriors every day.
I wish with all my heart that we had a cure for cancer. I wish that all the young parents who I’ve walked with in their final days, hadn’t had their final days yet. I wish that all the young kiddos who’s lives have been taken by cancer could be getting skinned knees instead. But we live in a broken world full of sickness, where a cure has not yet been found. I will continue to fight for a cure, but in the mean time while a cure has not yet been found, will you join me in the fight to support these brave warriors and their loved ones? Trust me, it will be worth it. It is the team fight which keeps hope alive.