October 7, 2009

Dear Cancer,

I've been thinking a lot about you lately.
It seems that you're always entering my life in some form. In the past, I've had family and friends who have had to deal with you, then I spent a year as a nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center fighting every form of you: brain, breast, pancreatic, skin, lung, liver, colon, ovarian, uterine, prostate, sarcoma of the heart, leukemia, lymphoma, and on and on and on. Most recently, three of my family members have been fighting you through Hodgkins' Lymphoma, Breast Cancer, and now Brain Cancer. It's like I just can't escape you; you've always there.

At MD Anderson, a lot of us nurses would wear there pins that say "Cancer Sucks". I think it takes a patient, a patient's family member, or a health care provider working in oncology to truly understand the truthfulness of that statement. I've never liked you, cancer, but only after seeing first hand all the pain, fatigue, and stress you cause day after day did I really learn what a cruel disease you are.
One day, as we were out at the nurse's station wearing our pins and talking about how much we hate cancer, one of the doctors looked up and said, "Well, you should be thankful for it, because it gives you a job." I wanted to poke that doctor's eyes out. Even though I was grateful for my job, I'd rather be jobless than have to see my patients (many who I grew close to) suffer and often die. I've seen too many young children lose their parents, too many men and women lose their sweethearts, too many parents lose their children to you, cancer. So when I left MD Anderson and moved to Minnesota, I thought, "I never want to work in cancer again!"

Well, you re-entered my life in January when my sister, Hanna, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Then came the news that my aunt was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Recently, we've found out that my cousin, Jared, is battling stage four brain cancer. As I've heard updates on everyone's conditions, and learned what treatments they were receiving, I've often wished that I could be there for my family members, that I could be their nurse. After all my experience with you, cancer, I wish I could be there to explain every drug that they receive and how it will affect them, to tell them exactly how their treatments are killing you, and to show them all the little tricks to help them feel better and remain as healthy as possible. Well, they're all thousands of miles away, and I can't be their nurse. I hate feeling like I can't help when I have all this knowledge and experience to do so. So even though I told myself that I'd never want to be an oncology nurse again, I've lately been wishing I could fight you again. If I can't be a nurse to my family members, I'd still feel like I would be helping them by being a nurse to someone else's family members.....
Now, I love the job I have now and have have no plans of leaving it. And the year I spent at MD Anderson was one of the most stressful of my life, one I don't really want to repeat (even though I loved my co-workers there). I've just felt lately like if you aren't going to butt out of my life, then I might as well fight you the whole way. Maybe someday I'll work in oncology again in some form, and if/when I do, you better watch out, cancer, because you've created a great enemy in me!
Yours truly,
Nurse Holly


Meg said...

Oh, Holly! I love your determination and your intense compassion for those you love, whoever they are!

Jordan said...

Oh yeah, living this life right now...it's been almost a year in oncology, I know exactly what you are talking about :o) We need to get those pins!

Jordan said...

PS this is Heather, oops, I am signed in as my hubby :o)

Claire Christensen said...

I hope I never have to fight that disease but if I do I hope you are by my side. You are a fighter and I love your positive attitude.

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