Thank an oncology nurse today

Sometime around the New Year, I get to my list of what I am thankful for. After writing about my cancer journey for a whole month in October, I am more thankful than most years to be alive. I am also thankful for oncology nurses. Every time I am in a room where oncology nurses are present, I try to watch them and determine what magic ingredient brought them to their profession. 2012 was a year when good oncology nursing was important to a friend who went through a nasty cancer. She commented on how her nurse was a constant in her life. When she had to change oncologists to get in a clinical trial at one point, she found herself with a new nurse who clearly had a major case of burnout. So it does happen. It made her even more grateful to get back to the original oncologist when the time came. She could count on this nurse, she told me, for good information and honest answers. No wonder nurses have yet again come out on top as the most trusted profession, scoring 85% (Congress scored the lowest and only 2 points above used car salesmen at 10%). This is the 11th year in a row by the way.But how do these men and women continue to do their job day after day? Cancer, as you well know, is exhausting to have and to deal with. Why did they choose oncology as a specialty? And how do they do it in a way that has us getting essays about the myriad ways that they go above and beyond? I remember calling Becky, my oncology nurse, about eight months after my treatment ended to tell her I thought my cancer had come back in my elbow. I wanted a bone scan -- immediately. She asked me calmly when it had started hurting and whether I had taken and aspirim for it. I had been so worried, I forgot to feel better when the aspirin kicked in. I told her it did help and she very calmy said, "that's good because cancer doesn't ususally respond to aspirin." DUH> She had an office full of people. I knew that. Only a few months before, I had been one of them. And instead of blowing up or telling me she was busy and she would call me back, she walked me through the steps, casually mentioning that it was good the aspirin helped becaus cancer didn't usually respond to aspirin. With narry a word, it was done. This is the time of year that we begin asking our readers for essays on Extraordinary Healers in their cancer journeys. These are the nurses they have encountered who were not only amazing nurses but who also went above and beyond with their patients in ways that only nurses can. Some of you have met these nurses, sent from some special place, to spend their lives ministering to those with cancer. If you want to, tell us about them in an essay. All the rules are in the magazine. If you don't want to do that, it's OK. Just call and tell them how much you appreciate their kindness and their knowledge and being cared for by a professional. It just takes picking up the phone if you are out of treatment or stopping by their desk the next time you are at the cancer center. Or taking a minute while they are preparing your meds. And if they have turned into the kind of nurse my friend got on her clinical trial, try to understand that their soul is weary and your thank you might patch it.