Nurses: The caregiver’s perspective

I remember the nurse — after the surgery where we learned the cancer had already spread — who brought blankets and pillows so I could sleep in the recliner next to Hubby’s hospital bed. Because I didn’t have the courage to go home and sleep alone in our bed that night.


young hospital workers in scrubs

Photo credit:


I remember how an oncology nurse sat beside Hubby during his first chemo infusion—knowing he was there for palliative care, that this would not be a cure for him—holding his hand, rubbing his arm as chemo began its drip, much like a mother comforting a child. Which was oddly comforting to the patient’s wife, as well.

I remember the surgery prep nurses who joked, “You know we don’t offer frequent flyer miles, right?” when we walked into the outpatient surgery prep area too many times. Their good humor, their knowing our first names, somehow this brought a bit of comfort, as well.

And of course I will never forget the compassionate hospice nurses who stood beside Hubby and me at the end of his life, who made Hubby’s transition out of this world as comfortable as possible. For him. And for me.

This quote from Vincent Van Gogh reminds me of the many nurses who interacted with us through the ten years that Hubby lived well with cancer, much much much longer than originally projected:

Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.

Oh, that we could all have a calling and not just a paycheck; that we could all have a passion for our life’s work. I suspect this is the case with most people who follow their hearts into nursing.

I don’t remember the names of all the nurses here in Bend, at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center.

But I do know they were the human touch, the medical translators; they softened the hospital stays, the bad news, the worse news.

Maya Angelou wrote words that have proved to be true for this cancer caregiver and her husband patient:

As a nurse we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

May is Oncology Nursing Month. If you know some incredible oncology nurses—or nurses of any kind—why not send a card telling them what they meant to you at a time when the bottom was falling out of your world.

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


4 thoughts on being alone – but happy – on this Mother’s Day


Prescription for depression


  1. Beautiful remembrances with gratitude, Marlys. As always, I wait for your blog and I am always touched.
    Your journey has blessed many……..

  2. Gary Wirth

    Marlys this was a great story about all the help you had from the nurses and staff. It is a good thing that there will be people there to help you in what every you need.

    • Those nurses AND our friends. We have so many stories of people – like you and Carolyn – who were there for us when we needed you. Thank you, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson