An Oncology Nurse Wears Many Hats

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

A cancer survivor details how her oncology nurse was also a therapist and social worker for patients as they received chemotherapy.

I am not a peer, so I want you to know that up front. I think I am probably the best qualified person to nominate a healer for this award because I am a cancer survivor. I say that with so much pride because I fought the fight and I can honestly credit 75% of the battle to the amazing oncology nurses like Ruth Donelson Miller, B.S.N., RN, OCN, who administer chemotherapy to patients like myself at Southern Cancer Center in Daphne, Alabama. When instead of worrying about cancer, our main fear is hair loss. It’s true; illogical but true. Ruth talks with patients as we wait and she gets warm blankets, all the while she is administering life-altering drugs to keep us alive and kill the cancer.

I have also volunteered at the Southern Cancer Center two years after I was in remission. It was then that I saw even more of what Ruth does. She is an oncology nurse, but she is also a therapist when patients are not feeling well or having muscle pain. She is also a social worker when families come in just hanging on by a thread and she tells them to be strong. Ruth gauges whether to pull them aside to help or if it’s better to make them laugh (she's always right, too). I’ve seen patients come in and sit next to her desk first to just say “hi” and take a minute. Ruth never rushes them.

I know someone else could attest to her skills as a caregiver and, in doing so, acknowledge all her certifications and continuing education. She has so many to share, but I felt very convicted to speak from the heart, as a patient, just what it means to have such a professional caregiver giving chemotherapy and telling us exactly what we can expect to feel. She always validates the patient’s feelings.

Ruth deserves this award because she is an extraordinary healer. I’m grateful for her and all the staff at Southern Cancer Center.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by LeAnn Hahn for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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