Cancer Nurses: Finding Strength and Courage Through Hope

Ed's awareness of the happenings around him created great admiration for nurses.

At the midway point of his chemotherapy, Ed was motivated by the results of the previous week’s CT scan. With his fourth chemo cycle about to begin, he understood the procedure and the results of the process. He knew he wouldn’t sleep for the first three days. He accepted the side effects and knew it takes 10 days for his body to recover following the fifth day of each cycle. He knew another cycle will begin in seven days after he finally feels recovered from the previous one. He has adapted to the constipation, mouth sores, sleeplessness, fatigue, lack of appetite, constant bad taste in his mouth coupled with the flavorless taste of anything he eats and the daily nausea attacks.

Ed’s enlarged spleen and lymph nodes were reducing, and his white cell count dropped even further to 690. He considered wearing the recommended surgical masks when leaving the house, and purchased an infrared thermometer and took his body temperature more than once per day.

It was day one of chemo cycle number four. Ed and Pattie were in the waiting area waiting for a nurse to take him back to the infusion room. Then Gina, a technician from the phlebotomy lab, called Ed to come with her. Gina said they are overbooked in the infusion room, so she took Ed back and got him set up.

As Ed patently waited for his infusion to begin, he observed activities and patients around him. A huge feeling of admiration grew within him. These clinical nurses were a special breed. They were competent, courteous, kind and professional. Ed began to wonder how they could maintain control of their emotions. They put care of their patients above themselves and did this with pleasantness and compassion. Smiles were quick to spread across their faces. How they were able keep it all together, after all they saw the terminal side of life every day? It had to have some impact and some depression deep within their souls. It would take courage to maintain their personalities, Ed thought.

Nurse Deb soon prepared Ed for his infusion cocktail. She stated, “My nametag says ‘Deb’ but everybody calls me Nurse Ratched. But I never flew over the cuckoo's nest. So just call me nurse Ratched.”

That gave Ed and Pattie a big chuckle. Then she hooked Ed up to the chemo Christmas tree and went off to fetch the IV bag, but not before bringing Ed and Pattie a cup of coffee.

As Ed and Pattie waited, they enjoyed their coffee and read the morning newspaper.

Ed’s thoughts returned to thinking about the nurses. Previously, he observed a patient who went into remission and returned for a visit to share her good news with the infusion staff. The nurses and survivor performed a “ring the gong” ritual. They had a small replica of a brass gong with a short stick to tap the gong. The survivor then rang the gong as the nurses all clapped and cheered and they hugged the cancer survivor who showed some emotion as happiness slipped out of the corner of her eye and rolled down her cheek.

These nurses were a huge source of hope, comfort and up lifting patience’s sprits.

Ed realized the nurses not only endured the sadness of the terminal side of life but reaped the joys of success. These wonderful nurses were the physical embodiment of hope, and hope brings strength and courage. Ed prays God will reserve a special blessing for them.

“Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, ‘Be of good courage!’” -- Isaiah 41:6