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Receiving a Stage IV Lung Cancer Diagnosis as a Hospice Nurse

Receiving a Stage IV Lung Cancer Diagnosis as a Hospice Nurse

I have always been the “good” girl…always looking to do “the next right thing”. Nursing was the most natural path for me to follow despite the fact that I had many challenges to overcome to make my dream a reality. Full-time Mom, night classes, working weekend nights in a crazy ER in midtown Atlanta. (And yes I have soooooo many stories!)

My ups & downs as a Registered Nurse

I have seen the absolute best in humanity, and the absolute worst. Sleep deprivation that cannot be understood by anyone but a fellow sufferer. The day I received my diploma as a Registered Nurse was one of my proudest moments. I knew then that yes, I REALLY can make a difference. Yes, I HAVE made a difference in people lives. Tiny little things I no longer remember but were the world to the person involved.

I have been honored to be part of the birth experience with parents and honored, too, to be part of the life-changing death experience with those same parents. I have been the person holding hands with the patient and family whose doctor just dropped the news that they have a terminal illness, and to “call their office in the morning for an appointment”. I have been busy, flustered, frustrated, overwhelmed with too many patients and not enough time to do my job to my very best ability. I’ve missed family dinners, celebrations, vacations. I divorced but was proud of my ability to care for my children and see them both through college with honors.

Finally finding my home

I have loved every aspect of my 18 years of nursing. In 2011 I entered the field of Hospice nursing, and in that, I found my HOME. I am extremely comfortable with people, with living and with dying. I understand the process, and I have a thorough knowledge of the tools to alleviate the suffering of both the patient and the family. People are amazed when they realize how much humor and life is involved in the dying process! The opportunity to help families come together, and come to heal…it is such an honor.

Smiling at the road ahead

Now, it is time for me to provide those services for my family and friends – to use all my knowledge and skills to bring them together and bring them to peace. It’s hard. Harder than I expected really. I understand this disease process well. I understand what is coming. I understand the hurt that my loved ones will be feeling, and I hurt for them. But today I feel good! I look normal. People don’t need to look at me and wonder how it’s going for me today. Today is all I plan for, and FINALLY, I truly understand the concept of “live for today“. I crank up my stereo, dance around my living room, boogie board to my hearts content…and I genuinely SMILE.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • PeteConaty
    12 months ago

    If my stage 4 takes my that far, I pray I have a nurse like you! Sometimes life just not fair.

  • anrean
    12 months ago

    There is so much to look forward to!! Stage IV is no longer the end…for many Stage IV is still within the reach of curable and if not that, at least it is a manageable chronic disease. This is my 5th primary cancer; the first, in 2002, gave me a 25% chance of getting off the table and then maybe 3-6 months. 16 years later I’m still here to tell others there really is hope. I know what is coming, but am fighting with everything in me!

  • PeteConaty
    12 months ago

    Something to look forward too I hope.

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