Many people think that this field is filled with sadness. And while it does have its difficult days, oncology nursing is also extremely rewarding.
I’ve heard that most nurses don’t know their specialty when they apply for nursing school. That makes me an outlier, because I knew before I ever applied to school. I am studying with the goal of being an oncology nurse.
When people ask my chosen field and I tell them, the question of “why?” quickly follows. Because after all, this is "such a hard field,” and "there is so much despair and sadness with cancer." To those who have said that before, or even to those who can relate to the statements above, I'd like to take a brief moment of your time to provide a differing perspective.
Cancer is hard. It is draining and takes a toll on life. It is a terrible disease that does much damage, and not every story ends well. But it is also so much more than that. I understand that from the outside looking in, the field of oncology may look full of despair. But having worked in various aspects of this field, I think that there is far more hope than despair. There is so much hope for a cure that seems to be just beyond the horizon.
Yes, death occurs in the field of oncological medicine. It also occurs, at some point, in every aspect of life. In western culture, we tend to shun death. When in truth, it is an important aspect of every life.
As a nurse, we get to help guide somebody and be privy to an incredibly intimate moment in somebody's life. We get to see the success when that patient gets good news. We also are blessed with the chance to hold a patient’s hand through what may be the end of their f life.
Through time, I have come to feel that one of the most important things within oncology is to be positive. I am not suggesting being ignorant to the realities of cancer. No, I am simply saying that as a caregiver, how we present ourselves to patients and families matter. Through my sister's journey, we were lucky to be graced with nurses and a care team filled with positivity.
In watching them, I came to understand the field of nursing — specifically oncology nursing, and found my calling in life. While this field can be hard, I find that it is often far more rewarding.
So, next time you see somebody who works in oncology, or even somebody like myself who will one day work in the field, I would like to challenge you. I challenge you to stop and think about some of words that I have written above, and to be like the oncology nurses we were lucky enough to have and practice the power of positivity.