When An Oncology Nurse Is Your Parental Guide

October 18, 2020

Volume 14,

On the cancer journey, oncology nurses are more than just a helping hand. They can be your second "mom" and guide you through the confusing parts.

Alice Vandermeer, B.S.N, RN, OCN, has been there since the beginning of my treatment for stage 2, grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma and actually helped me make the decision to start therapy.

I had a pretty bad meltdown in May 2012, the night before chemotherapy started. I was screaming that I was not doing it. Even when I got there the next morning, I planned to tell them thanks, but no. Alice was there. When she’s around, it feels like having a mom right there, which was nice for me because my mom was at her home in Mississippi at that time. Alice’s entire demeanor was able to quiet me and, I would suspect, the others starting chemotherapy. After talking with her, I felt myself cave in, and I started chemotherapy. So far so good, with no recurrence.

Alice is the nurse everyone has contact with. She gives the pretreatment class at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute in Meridian, Idaho, for all types of cancer. She must do a lot of volunteering because she seemed to be at all the extra classes we had. She was there for a course called Look Good, Feel Better. (Kudos to the Look Good Feel Better Foundation for that class — I might be vain, but losing my hair was very traumatic for me.) She was there at every event I attended that dealt with cancer treatment.

I also saw Alice in the breast cancer portions of the hospital. She always seemed to be there at different stages of my care, throughout the treatment process. At one point, I ended up with an infection and needed a treatment administered daily for two weeks. Alice was made available for that, as well. Whether she arranged that or God had a hand in it, I don’t know. I just thank God every day that she was there for me.

Alice just has a wealth of knowledge! Her demeanor of kindness, caring and gentleness is real.

I am not her only patient, I know, and I’ll bet that every patient who deals with Alice feels the way I do about her. Physical support comes and goes, but emotional support stays with a person for a very long time. I know that I always had Alice’s emotional support, and that was the part I needed the most. My post-cancer world, and that of many others, would not be the same without her presence, always at just the right times.

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