Oncology nurses rock the world

I love and appreciate oncology nurses, not only because I had a great one (who took my hysterical calls with calm), but also because I have now met many who have the same unique qualities. I have always known oncology nurses were called to their profession, but now I believe they are a special genetic makeup of compassion and skill found in no other profession.So I am in heaven right now at the Oncology Nursing Society annual congress in Boston because I am surrounded by 3,500 oncology nurses. Tonight we will award one nurse our Extraordinary Healer Award at an annual event where we gather to recognize the skills of these amazing men and women.As I watch the nurses going to and from the meetings where they will learn more about cancer and the patients they serve, I am reminded that they could have chosen a much less demanding nursing role for a career, ones that wouldn't require late hours, contact with body fluids and very sick patients surrounded by devastated caregivers. I am reminded again that these are not ordinary people as I walk from the hotel to the convention center. They connect easily, making eye contact. We talk in the elevators and when you overhear spontaneous conversations they are always about how to do something better for their patients. They aren't embarrassed to sing along with Charlie Lustman, a singer-songwriter and head and neck cancer survivor who told his story and then sang to--and with--the nurses at the opening this morning. This kind of simple humanity is real for these folks, who are probably looking at this young man and thinking about a patient they cared for who didn't make it--and being glad he did. They gave him a standing ovation.They aren't stylish, and elastic waistbands dominate. It took me a minute this morning to realize that there wasn't a pair of 7-inch spike heals in sight. At this meeting, sensible shoes are the norm. These are people who have their feet on the ground and their hearts in the right place.If you haven't already, call your nurse and thank her or him for choosing oncology as a career. For choosing us.