Nurse Appreciation Week: Showing Gratitude Beyond This Week

Remembering to show appreciation and gratitude towards the ones caring for both ourselves and the ones we love.

They hold hands when bad news is delivered by doctors. They hold hair when antiemetics do not work in time. They bring warm blankets on cold nights. They provide company in the quiet darkness of hospital rooms. They walk beside us so we do not have to walk alone. They are nurses, and I am so proud that I will join them one day.

I have met many nurses at countless clinics and many hospitals in the last few years that I would be lying to say I remembered them all. Just at my sister’s main treatment hospital, The Medical Center of Aurora South, she’s had four sets of care teams. We refer to her first team as her “OG Nurses.” They were there at diagnosis and some of them have continued to follow both my sister and myself, even after they moved to other hospitals and treatment centers.

There was Nick, who sat on hospital floors with me to give much needed guidance because my sister was too afraid for me to leave her. Eric, who has answered so many strange and simply bizarre questions that I think he sometimes questions my own sanity. Jolyn, who left cookies and milk for me nearly every night she worked, knowing that although nothing could fix what was wrong, a little chocolate never hurt. I had never met somebody who could do Disney trivia on my level until I met Stacey. And Kristi, who made cancer a tangible reality and not a monster to be feared when I just beginning to learn all about it.

Jessica, Amelia, Rikki and Amela made it so much easier with a calming force when they entered her room and gentle care on the scariest of nights. Kelly, Stephanie, Monique, Emily, Erin A, and Erin T., were so sweet and took care of my sister as if she were their own sister. Pete, Mike and Austin brought both phenomenal care and humor when it was much needed. Suzette, Lucy, Betsy, Cindy, Donna, Monica, Lanida, Dawn and Melanie have always been very maternal with my sister and me, making sure that she was OK because she was their patient, but always going above and beyond to take care of me as well.

Rachelle, Sarah and Kate have done more for my sister and I than I think words will ever be able to quantify. All of the 5C team and the float pool nurses that come and go, have shown time and time again how a simple gesture can make all the difference. I have learned so many lessons from all of them that I will not soon forget.

Then there was her bone marrow transplant team at Presbysterian St. Luke's. Carrie, who ran the floor with grace and so much heart. Bryanna, who on one of my hardest nights gave up her time knowing it meant extra hours of dictation, so that I would not be alone. And of course Bryan, who is the one who transplanted her cells giving her a second birthday.

Or the nurses at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center Aurora, who have treated my sister more times than I can count. Mariyln who has never missed a port site draw. And Rich and Lynn, who have done more infusions on her than any one patient should endure.

I have listed so many influential nurses above, and yet I am sure that I have forgotten some. That is not to say that what they did and do does not matter. The thing about being a nurse is that you witness some of the most critical points in somebody’s life. You are rarely remembered and that is OK, because that is not why you become a nurse. You do it because it is a passion, a calling in one’s heart to make a difference. I know this, because I was taught this. Well shown it, really. I have witnessed it by all those who have played a role in my sister’s cancer journey.

I will someday take my place amongst these same nurses of oncological medicine, all for whom I have the utmost respect. I know that how I practice nursing will be because of how I have witnessed all those who cared for my sister practice nursing. They are the faces that we saw day in and day out. They are the people who hugged us when good news was given, and shed tears with us at every tragic turn her story.

Beyond badges and scrubs are amazing individuals who are incredibly important people. Guiding me, pushing me, encouraging me and helping me to discover a passion that I had no idea was buried deep within myself. I have learned something from all of them that I hope to carry with me. And that all the knowledge that has been bestowed to me is the knowledge that I will draw upon as I practice nursing in a few short years.

It is sad to me that only one week is given to show appreciation for people who give up their own time in an effort to give people more time. It is always important to show gratitude to those treating us or the ones we love, not just today or during Nurse Appreciation Week. They are unsung heroes and deserve far more praise and appreciation than often given.