Cancer is exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally for everyone involved – especially the patients. As an oncology nurse, there are frustrating times because even after giving all the appropriate medications and trying alternative methods of therapy, the client still suffers. We give our best and try to ease their troubles a much as possible. As nurses, we are with the patient on their journey and we become someone they can count on – not only for medications and therapy, but for emotional support.
I remember a time when I was asked to witness chemo administration in the Stem Cell Unit. The client’s nurse, Vam, and I were performing our routine checks and noticed that their birthday was only two days ago. I pointed it out to the patient and they appeared sad. They expressed that because of their condition they could not celebrate and made plans to come to the hospital instead.
Later, Vam approached me and said that she wanted to celebrate the patient’s birthday. She told me that she wanted to get a cake for them and asked if she could go to the cafeteria. We looked at the cakes in the cafeteria. None of the cakes were decorated. She wanted something more festive to lighten the mood. Vam had an idea.
Vam searched around the unit for things she could use to make the cake appear more fun. She made make-shift decorations with unused cards and placed them on the cake with toothpicks. She gathered other nurses to sing Happy Birthday to the patient. The patient was surprised and became tearful. The patient enjoyed the sentiment and thanked the nurses for the small celebration.