I’m a certified oncology nurse, and I care for cancer patients. The complexity of cancer requires specific nurses who are familiar with the latest research and clinical advancements in order to successfully implement evidence-based practices and meet the varied needs of patients and their families. Therefore, as an oncology nurse, my sole focus is helping people who have cancer.
The oncology nurses at Bon Secours St. Francis (BSSF) are on the front line in cancer care and serve in a multitude of important roles. They are professional caregivers, educators, counselors and even friends to their patients.
Daily interactions with patients include wig, surgical bras and prosthesis consultations. They also must juggle fulfilling chemotherapy and equipment needs and manage side effects to medication, all while ensuring the patient is comfortable. An oncology nurse’s day wouldn’t be complete if we also didn’t address general barriers to care and try to resolve them.
The oncology unit at (BSSF) is proud to be a part of the Roper St. Francis Cancer Care team and is celebrating its first anniversary as a complete unit.
A Family Affair
The day-to-day interactions don’t stop with Roper St. Francis patients. Roper St. Francis Healthcare is an extremely supportive environment for both patients and their families, who share in their fight against cancer and are on the road with them to survivorship. Patients often bring their families with them, so it is not unusual to have 10 people in a room at one time.
We share the emotional burden of cancer treatment, and celebrate the milestones of our patients. I think of all the patients who we helped beat cancer and remember them on Cancer Survivor’s Day, which was June 3 this year.
Nurses can’t change the prognosis or treatment, but they can help patients and their families get through the stressful time and deal with the smaller things — especially during cancer treatment.
Being involved with their patients’ life is always part of the job. Oncology nurses work hard to make patients happy. Our nurses have helped a dying patient’s last wish to see his son graduate come true, a grandmother wanting to hold her newborn grandchild before she died, and prepared a baby shower for a loved one. It is very important for oncology patients to have someone to connect with during these life-altering events, and we are honored to serve as liaisons.
Oncology nurses face some unique challenges in their work, yet overcome these obstacles by continuingly providing compassionate, excellent care. They may be ordinary people, but they perform extra-ordinary jobs.
By Nenette E. Borja, RN, an oncology clinical manager at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley.