Physical and Mental Care of Patients is Meaningful During Cancer Treatment

Published on: 
Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

A doctor from the department of radiation oncology at Emory’s Clifton Campus describes a nurse at her institution who goes “above and beyond” her call of duty by training her colleagues and making her patients feel comfortable.

Brenda Wilbanks, RN, is hardworking, reliable, self-motivated and loved by our patients and our team. The attention she gives our patients and the thoroughness with which she provides education is an investment which pays our entire team back in spades. Brenda has also taken a significant amount of time to train nurses within our department to help with the patients with breast cancer when she is away. Brenda is an asset to our team.

She truly cares about our patients and often goes above and beyond her job description to make sure that our patients are cared for completely both physically and mentally. There is no other nurse I would recommend for taking care of a family member. Brenda anticipates the anxiety and questions that patients have and helps put them at ease with her warmth and knowledge. She is skilled at forming and maintain relationships, and has incredible sensitivity towards the patients and all members of our team. Brenda is confident, intellectually curious, hardworking, and highly self-motivated. She follows through and makes sure that patients receive supportive services whether it’s meeting with a social worker, financial counseling and/or lymphedema/physical therapy.

Her organization and follow-through are exceptional; her binder of worksheets and notes is beyond impressive. Having such a phenomenal and bright team member has been a true asset, and we all miss her on her days off of work! She personifies “See one, do one, teach one.” We are so lucky to have her, and she is a true role model for nurses and leadership within our department.

Without given a formal charge or any formal guidance, Brenda took the initiative to revise patient education materials and develop and maintain a running log of events and concerns of patients before, during and after treatment. The log has really helped patients and providers to completely appreciate a patient's journey. When I became interested in developing a program for our young women with breast cancer, she contacted agencies like Young Survivors Coalition to obtain material and resources for our patients on her own accord. She then integrated this program into her teaching of patients younger than 45 years old.

Brenda is a natural leader. When Brenda identifies an area of need for our patients or our team, she will address it immediately and completely often without wanting credit. After I gave her materials about skin care to prevent radiation dermatitis, she went to several grocery and drug stores to generate a list of soaps and skin care products to provide patients that contained ingredients which prevent radiation burns. She is often thinking of our patients, even when she is away from work. I know that she has personally surveyed the shelves of deodorants at multiple grocery stores to see which brands would be less irritable and costly but also effective.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Dr. Mylin Torres, for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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