For many CURE Childhood Cancer families, nurses become family. While they care for sick children, they also seem to find a way to care for their entire families. Nurses know the power of a kind word, a caring touch, a sympathetic ear. They probe the depth of the human condition – the strength and suffering of the body, mind, heart, and spirit.
We would like to take some time to honor Jennifer Stuart, a nurse at The Children’s Hospital in Savannah. She has been a nurse for eight years and has a wonderful dedication to the children she treats! Below Jennifer shares a little bit about her experience.
“I always wanted to be a pediatrician. I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. But when I started college and had the opportunity to work with a doctor, I learned that they did not get to be as involved with the patients as I would like. I wanted to take care of patients at the bedside. So I changed my plans, and became a nurse.
I don’t really remember what sparked my interest in pediatric oncology, but it has always fascinated me. It is interesting and challenging. There is always something new to learn or experience. My favorite part of my job is the patients. Children are so resilient. They recover so quickly while adults just don’t have the same fighting spirit. It is my job to make them feel better. But I find that they often brighten my day as well. I have never second guessed my career decision. I love my job and wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I remember a specific patient that really touched my heart was a teenage girl with AML. She was a true fighter. While she was fighting cancer, she managed to maintain her good grades and not have to repeat a grade in school. She came to me during a follow up appointment to tell me she was going to college. I asked her what she wanted to major in and she told me nursing. When I asked her what kind of nursing she wanted to do, she said she wanted to be like me and do pediatric oncology. I gave her a hug and told her I was honored. I know she will be a wonderful nurse. I would be honored to work along side of her and call her a colleague. She is truly an amazing young woman.
As a pediatric oncology nurse, there are good days and bad days. We share in our patients’ lives on a daily basis. We share their joys and successes, like learning to remain calm during a needle stick or swallowing a pill for the first time. But with sharing their joys, we also share in their sorrows and disappointments. We are there when the doctors have to give bad news like a life-threatening diagnosis or a potential relapse. We are the ones who have to perform painful procedures and administer medications while children cry and ask us not to. Those times are especially difficult.
My number one goal as a nurse is to do the best job I can everyday. If I leave work for the day and know that I have done everything for my patients that I can possibly do, I feel like it was a successful day.”