For a year I was employed as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at a Children’s Hospital in a major US city. My position on the Resource team required me to float between units wherever there was need. Each night that I worked, I would call our hotline, and receive my evening assignment. My favorite floor to work on was 17…the Hematology/Oncology floor.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my job in each unit, but from my experience, there was something incredibly special about floor 17. As a new CNA, I learned about chemo safe gloves to use while handling patient’s bodily fluids. I learned about the routines the families had adapted; the prognosis’ for their children, and the treatments they were pursuing. My heart swelled as I felt honored to be allowed into their lives in this unwanted season.
One particular instance that sticks out in my mind is of a little girl, around four years old, whose room was decked out in pink. I had heard that she only let her mom put the bp cuff on her, and fully intended upon allowing that routine to continue; however, on this occasion, she noticed a pink ribbon I had in my hair. We bonded over an affinity for the color pink, and not only did I get her blood pressure, but she allowed me to measure her temperature as well! That little girl fought a fight each day with the CNA’s and Nurses that she could win…who would put her bp cuff on. I would have let her win that round; her mom was trained and had assumed that role many times. In the face of a battle that she was “losing”, she needed those little wins to keep up the will to fight. Such a brave little superhero.
After my first evening on the Hem/Onc floor, I was struck by how different the patients families were from the other floors I had floated between. In the face of death, sometimes delayed, there was more joy and good will amongst the rooms. The families bonded with one another in ways that were not apparent on the other units. Personally, I felt respected more and was invited into their lives more personally (thank you families for allowing me to walk alongside you!). Additionally, I observed that most of the staff on that floor rarely called off (I was rarely floated there).
To those bald or fuzzy headed little superheroes, who daily fought and are still fighting the side effects of rounds of radiation, chemo, and other treatments, who endured the PICC line placements with stoic little faces that had learned to not pull them out, I salute you. Daily you enter a battle that you didn’t choose. I am in awe of you. Keep up the good fight, brave little superheroes.