People who have been given the news that they have cancer will naturally go through a wide range of emotions. They may feel confused, angry, afraid or just numb. They may wonder how other cancer patients find the strength within themselves to stay positive through all of the obstacles that come with the diagnosis. Oncology nurses are at the heart of what it means to support, care for, educate and counsel those who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.
It Takes a Special Kind of Person
Peggy Farmer, RN, BSN, OCN, an infusion nurse in oncology at Virginia Cancer Specialists, describes her multifaceted role. “Most of my role as an infusion nurse in oncology is focused on the safe administration of a variety of chemotherapy and biologic therapies...Oncology nurses serve as patient advocates and educators to patients and their families. We teach them about potential adverse reactions of medications and help manage symptoms and side effects. We bolster patients’ support system by providing community resources. We guide patients and their families through the cancer experience with professional, quality, and compassionate care.”
When she was in high school, Peggy was a candy striper volunteering at a hospital in the oncology unit. “It was during that time that I discovered that oncology patients are a very strong, brave, caring, and optimistic group.... It was as though oncology chose me.”
Saying “Thank You” Every Day
While Oncology Nursing Month happens each year in May, these men and women should be recognized each day for continuing to dedicate their time and effort to their patients. They continue to be there through the ups and downs of treatment. It’s a job that can be tough at times, but the rewards are ever-present.
“Certainly for me, the most rewarding aspect of being an oncology nurse, is the interactions with patients and their families,” Peggy says. “I love the education aspects of my work. I believe that a knowledgeable patient will be able to navigate through this challenging time a little easier. They will report symptoms and side effects sooner, so that we can address them before the symptoms escalate. Cancer patients are a brave group of people. They teach us so much about life during one of the most challenging times in their own lives. I remain grateful.”
A simple hug or note to say “thank you” can go such a long way! We want to say ‘Thank you’ to all oncology nurses everywhere, for all that you do!