Oncology nurses are there for many moments on the cancer journey and can help champion important milestones that might otherwise go by unnoticed.
As oncology nurses, we know that birthdays are a privilege denied to many. Our stem cell transplant unit has been fortunate to have had a great champion of birthdays in Courtney Ebbeskotte, RN.
On one occasion, she noted that one of our patients was about to turn 21 and discovered that on his birthday, he would be admitted to the hospital for his final round of chemotherapy. During his second-to-last hospital stay, Courtney made arrangements with his mother and her fellow staff members to throw a surprise party during his next admission.
When he arrived, he was met with streamers, a cake and enthusiastic nurses and patient-care techs shouting “Surprise!” It made his birthday and final hospital admission an experience to remember.
Another time, she found that she and one of her patients shared a birthday the upcoming week. Although not scheduled to work on her birthday, Courtney came to the floor and delivered a bouquet of balloons to the patient. She has wholeheartedly celebrated patient milestones and was among our unit’s most enthusiastic participants whenever a patient completed the 5K, half- marathon or full marathon that are part of our unit’s walking program. If she wasn’t the nurse to send a group text arranging the finish-line celebration, she would most certainly be one of the first to respond and stand by, ready to cheer.
Courtney has been a champion not only of current birthdays but also of patients reaching more birthdays. Every shift, she would strive to motivate her patients to do what was in their best interest for recovery, whether that meant eating and drinking more, walking just a few laps in the halls or sitting up in a chair for at least one meal. She is particularly effective in motivating non- compliant patients.
When she served as our unit representative on the pressure ulcer prevention team, she strove to motivate her fellow workers in an effort to help us help them. She accounted for the patients needing frequent repositioning and placed reminders, which she designed and redesigned, on the patient doors and inside the rooms. She would hold us accountable and inspire us to be better healers.
Many patients owe their birthdays, both the ones celebrated now and those they can celebrate in the future, to the compassion, work ethic and healing nature of Courtney Ebbeskotte.