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In Oncology, Every Day Counts

Published June 20, 2016 11:06 AM by Leatitia Coetzee

As the morning sun comes up over Table Mountain and I climb the final steps up Lion's Heads hiking trail, I get a sense of just how small I actually am, looking around at all the majesty of God's artwork. How blessed am I not to be able to experience this, see and feel it, touch and taste it. How often do we forget to be thankful? Even for the little things we receive on a daily basis?

I had the opportunity to work in the oncology ward and it rocked me to my core. I have so much respect for every single person that works there, starting from the cleaner that keeps the ward so clean and happy for the patients, to the cheerful tea lady and catering staff that make sure the patients are getting healthy and tasty food, to the receptionist that always welcomes the family and friends with so much love and kindness, the Matron that organizes every day for the ward and makes sure that not only are the patients cared for and loved but also her personnel. 

I realized in oncology that every day counts here, there are no guarantees of tomorrow and no regrets about the past. 

Here you live today as best you can, you learn something new, you touch someone, you look into their eyes when speaking and you engage with them, and actually listen to them, you share in their journey. 

That is such a blessing. 

I was blown away by the love and grace the staff treated the patients, they did not rush (although they had a right to, with everything that had to be done, on a daily basis), they almost looked angelic in their chores, and I fell in love with nursing all over again.

This is why I am a nurse, this is why I love so hard, I feel so much, and give of myself to every single person I meet, because I too know how quickly your whole world can change in the blink of an eye. 

That you have to treasure every single day you have to be with those you love and care for. Make memories that last, that will help you through days that might seem or feel cold and hopeless. 

You have to always be kind and know that today is where you have to be wholly involved, because tomorrow might not be there, and today is a present to be opened and enjoyed fully.

My patients in oncology taught me this:" You need only have courage and believe that every day you open your eyes and you can feel, love and breath, is a blessing granted to you by God, and you don't have to do anything to deserve it, you must just simply LIVE!!"

8 comments

Oncology is very dear to me not just for working on the unit in my previous years, but having a family member who had cancer last year.  My brother-in-law which is my sister's husband told the whole family that he had prostate cancer and one tumor that he had was aggressive.  So, he had major surgery and he was out of work for a month.  In December, we found out that he was cancer free which I was so thankful.  It made me realize that cancer is a hard thing to go through, but when you have a good support system like my brother-in-law had, it makes all of the different in the world.  

Carly Moore, Geriatric - Assisted Living, Assisted Living January 17, 2017 9:19 AM
Reston VA

I have worked in the oncology unit as a volunteer and it is a very interesting and rewarding unit.  The oncology unit is rewarding in that we are helping these people feel better each and everyday.  We are also giving them love and respect; even when they are not feeling well.  We bring them the sun and help them to enjoy their day and make it brighter.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to help the patients on the oncology unit.  

Carly Moore, Nursing - Carly Moore, Assisted Living December 19, 2016 7:51 PM
Reston VA

Oncology nursing is one type of nursing specialty that has really opened my eyes to a lot of things.  I volunteered on the oncology unit and before I wanted to be in that unit, I was so scared.  I thought that it would be this sad unit, but I was totally wrong.  The unit was uplifting with pictures of patients who conquered cancer and the nurses were upbeat and the unit had such beautiful colors in it.  I enjoyed volunteering in the oncology unit and I hope to do it again in the near future.  

Carly Moore, Nursing - School Nurse, School November 18, 2016 10:19 AM
Vienna VA

Oncology is a very hard, but very rewarding nursing field to be in.  I remember when I was in the infusion unit part of the oncology unit, I had a great time learning about all of the IV medications and Chemotherapy too, but I also learned how the nurses took their time to talk to the patients as well.  Medicine is not just giving medications, but it is also giving caring and compassion words to patients who are scared.  

Carly Moore, Clerical - Nursing, Home October 19, 2016 4:15 PM
Vienna VA

I have worked in the oncology unit at my local hospital in Reston area.  I also have worked in the inpatient unit and outpatient unit as well when I worked in the oncology unit.  The impatient unit for oncology is a nice unit because it helps clients who have cancer recover well.  The outpatient unit for oncology that I worked at was very nice as well.  It was in the basement of the hospital, the patients came in, and they had radiation therapy.  Then, the other part of the unit was on the fourth floor of the hospital which I also worked at sometimes and that had IV treatments and chemo therapy treatments for patients with cancer, blood transfusions, needing antibiotics through IV, and other needs for an IV.  I worked in the medical records area and the supply needs area too.  I really enjoyed both units because even though they were different, they had one goal in mind and that was to care for the patient and to have the patient's best interest in mind.  I really enjoyed working in both of these oncology units and I know that the patients were well taken care of there.  

Carly Moore, School - Nurse September 14, 2016 4:28 PM
Vienna VA

Being an oncology nurse can be hard, but there are people who have the gift of working in that particular area or specialty.  My friend worked as an oncology nurse for years and she loved what she did.  She worked and worked and the one thing that she enjoyed was keeping her patients comfortable.  She loved doing palliative care.  I admire that because it can be hard work doing palliative care due to the heavy lifting and other physical needs.  I want to say thank you to all of the oncology nurses.  You all are angels.  

Carly Moore, Nursing - School Nurse, School August 23, 2016 12:13 PM
Vienna VA

Thank you for reading my piece. It means so much.

Leatitia Coetzee August 2, 2016 5:17 AM

Thank you for using such strong words and for sharing your experiences with us all on this website.  That was a very brave thing and I thank you for sharing your true stories.  I know very well that everyday is a wonderful day and everyday is truly a gift.  Every moment that we breath, every time that we can eat, every time that we can see outside, and every time that we can truly understand our surroundings is surely a blessing.  Thank you for giving us that assurance and thank you for your kind words.  Thank you most of all for your hard work on the oncology unit everyday.  You do a great job everyday and I thank you for all that you do for your patients.  Purplespider, CNA

Carly Moore, School Nursing - CNA, School June 22, 2016 10:27 AM
Vienna VA

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