Arms with hospital gowns on hugging a heart with a nurse's hat and badge

The Importance of Nurses

Starting from the very first days after I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013, I realized the importance that nurses would play in my new normal. My oncologist’s nurse was the one who informed me that I had EGFR positive lung cancer over the telephone and started my insurance approval for targeted therapy before I even met my oncologist for the first time.

Encouragement and hope from my oncologist’s nurse

During this conversation, she said something to me that has stayed with me for the six plus years since my diagnosis: “We’re going to treat this as a chronic disease like diabetes and if something stops working, we’ll test and find something else that will.”

While lung cancer has made a lot of progress in diagnosis and treatment in recent years, not all patients yet are able to treat their cancer as a chronic disease. However, I have always come back to her calming comment to me in other times of stress and difficulty and it truly has helped me reframe my attitude towards my disease.

Grateful for the care I received after my lobectomy

Nowhere has the importance of nurses been more evident to me than in my recent hospital stay for my lobectomy. Yes, my surgeon and the rest of her surgical team was fantastic. But the various nurses who cared for me and spent tons of time with me post-surgery really helped my recovery get off to a smooth start.

It all began when I woke up in recovery to find a nurse right by my side. I have a strange reaction to anesthesia; it makes me incredibly chatty when I wake up. I started telling my recovery nurse my whole life story and from her comments, it seemed like she was already familiar with my story, like an old friend. When my husband joined me in recovery, he asked how I was doing and how long I had been awake. My nurse told him I’d been awake for about an hour, off and on, and had been talking pretty much the entire time my eyes were open. This poor woman evidently had been patiently listening to me tell her the same stories about my life over and over again!

My nurses made me feel safe and comfortable

Once I made it to the hospital room which was to be my home for the next two days, wonderful nurses made sure I was comfortable, relatively pain-free and had food from the hospital menu. They made sure that I was safe when I got up to use the bathroom and helped me go for walks the same evening I had surgery in order to accelerate my recovery and limit the possibility of blood clots. Although sleeping in a hospital is never easy due to lots of interruptions and vital checks, my night nurses were always very respectful when interrupting my sleep. Much more so than the respiratory therapist who woke me up in the middle of the night both nights to offer me a nebulizer treatment which I didn’t need and the random person who came in with a scale to weigh me at 2am my second night!

At one point, I needed to go to the bathroom, and a nurse who wasn’t assigned to me came in to help. He took one look at my hand and asked me if it hurt. Unbeknownst to me, one of my IV lines had gone haywire and the liquid (which fortunately was just saline) was going directly into the tissue of my hand instead of my vein. It must have just happened because my hand was only slightly swollen, but due to his quick response and ability to notice this issue before it became a problem, I was able to have the problematic IV removed without it causing an infection.

Thank you to our nurses

Nurses are incredibly important to all patients, especially those of us with lung cancer who interact with them often, whether in-patient or outpatient. They are usually our first call or email when we have a question or concern about our treatment.

Please join me in giving thanks for the nurses who help us every day!

How has a nurse helped or supported you recently?

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