A patient with multiple myeloma shares his story and how his oncology nurse has provided him with care and empathy on his cancer journey.
First, an introduction: I am an 80-year-old patient who received a multiple myeloma diagnosis in 2012. In the past seven years, I have been treated with a variety of chemotherapy drugs — orally with Revlimid (lenalidomide), Pomalyst (pomalidomide) and Ninlaro (ixazomib) and by injection or infusion with Zometa (zoledronic acid), Velcade (bortezomib) and Darzalex (daratumumab). My current treatment regimen is weekly infusions of dexamethasone and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide).
In my 80 years, I have been exposed to many nurses. In my estimation, there are two areas of concern when I think of nurses. The first, of course, is their medical expertise. I have enough faith in the medical system to assume that a nurse who goes to school and passes the appropriate tests and on-the-job training well enough to be granted the honor to be called a registered nurse is qualified from a technical standpoint. However, there is a second side to the role of being a nurse that, to me, is at least as important as the technical side, perhaps even more important.
In my opinion, some people in the medical field have a tendency to be somewhat impersonal in their dealings with patients. The nurse is at the bottom of the contact line and the one person who can best understand the needs and concerns of the patient. The average patient, I am sure, has questions and concerns that cause worry and nervousness. Jennifer Becker, RN, has been treating me for the entire seven years since my diagnosis. I have absolutely no doubt about her technical capabilities. The others in the office come to her for advice and counsel. But the area in which she really excels is what we used to call “bedside manner” (I am not sure if that term is used today).
Jennifer always makes sure to check in with all the patients, even those whose treatment she is not directly involved with on that particular day. She wants to ensure that we have no questions that have not been answered and that our needs have been addressed. Beyond that, she is actively involved in making sure that those who accompany the patient are comfortable and their needs are satisfied. It is a great comfort to me, as a patient, to know that my wife is considered an important part of my treatment.
I have never spent even one day in treatment when Jennifer was any different from her caring and empathetic self. She has never failed to satisfy any and all questions and concerns that I have had over the years. If she did not have the answer or felt that it should come from elsewhere, she made sure that it was resolved in the end. I am proud to tell the oncology community that she deserves recognition as an extraordinary healer.