In case you didn’t know, May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, which allows about a month to plan. What if you showed up with a bouquet of flowers? Or some chocolate? Or a gift card to a local coffee shop?
To thank the men and women who made a difference in your life, or in the life of your loved one? How cool would that be?
Earlier this week, I spoke to first-year nursing students at the local college, sharing what my husband, Gary, and I did for quality of life while he dealt with cancer.
I also suggested—when it comes time and where it would be appropriate—that they encourage their patients to be proactive in their own healing process.
And I urged them to practice good self-care in this hard and holy calling.
Of all the audiences Gary and I presented to, nurses were our favorite.
Maybe it was their youthful energy.
Maybe it was because they ‘got’ my husband’s tongue-in-cheek humor better than most.
And maybe it was because Gary and I had such incredible experiences with nurses in our ten-year journey through cancer.
Maya Angelou said this:
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.
Some nurses’ names I’ve forgotten. But I will never forget that most of them went above and beyond the call of duty in caring for my husband.
The prep nurses in outpatient surgery (where we showed up maybe four or five times because of nephrostomy tube issues) … well, one of them said this: “You know we don’t offer frequent flyer miles, right?”
There was the oncology nurse, Liz, who held Gary’s hand at the start of his first chemo treatment, knowing this was palliative care and not a cure; Liz, who brought her horses to Soaring Spirits Camp for children of cancer patients to ride.
There were the nurses at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle who joked with my husband and administered treatment when he flew there two times every three weeks for clinical trial treatment.
There was Melinda, our Hospice Field Nurse, the perfect fit for Gary’s dry humor, who could zing him right back with her sharp wit.
And there were the nurses at Hospice House—when Gary’s medical needs became more than I was able to manage at home—whose job was to make my husband as comfortable as possible, so gently, so kindly, so attentive to my daughter and me as we walked beside him.
The combined humor and compassion, the wisdom and adeptness, the confidence and ability to comfort and explain — it all went far in serving as a buffer in easing the hard news, a ray of light and hope against our darkness.
A final thought
Gary and I, as patient and caregiver, were recipients of these kinds of nurses:
It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.
So much hard news, but so many astonishing, fearless, sassy nurses.
Thank you to each of you, and to this new crop coming up, you attentive students who listened so well this past Monday.
Just … thank you.
I’ll leave you with this thought from an unknown author:
Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear scrubs.