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My thoughts on my pediatric oncology placement

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Despite regularly looking after patients with cancer when working as a care assistant, Danielle is now facing her fear of working with paediatric cancer.

Maybe the sights and smells of my job has caused me to associate it with endings, rather than fights for survival and new beginnings? To me, cancer is undignifying- I feel like it’s something that shouldn’t interrupt childhood, its too painful and too cruel.

This course has made me face up to many of my anxieties and fears, its been challenging but worthwhile, as I am sure my next placement will be.

So when I found out my next placement is in paediatric oncology it led me to ruminate on cancer and the memory of running the Race For Life with my cohort at the end of my first year. We each had personal experiences of friends and family who had been affected by cancer, while many of us came face to face with children with cancer and in turn had seen the effect of the diagnosis.

As student nurses, we inadvertently joined many peoples’ cancer journey.

So, we decided to do the Race For Life and raise money to help the cause- except my cohort decided rather crazily to do the entire 5km three-legged! Amazingly, nobody fell over. As I chose to run it, I got to cheer on the exceptional sight of fabulously pink three legged soldiers marching the final 100m.

”Raising money and awareness was more than philanthropy”

For us, the Race for Life meant more than that 5km along the beautiful Nottingham Embankment. Raising money and awareness was more than philanthropy, but a privilege to do as much as we can for our patients and for any other person who hears “you have cancer” one day.

A colleage of mine suggested that “the three-legged thing” is about us understanding recovery and how even if it can be difficult to ’walk’ and carry on, if we work together with the patient - we can get through it. And, the journey might be hard, but we know the finish line is in sight and we will do our best for the patient.

”We know the finish line is in sight and we will do our best for the patient”

As mentioned before, I chose to run. Many people I have spoken to with cancer, or who have survived their illness, talk of fear and loss and above all crippling isolation filled with unanswerable questions. Running next to hundreds of people, yet actually being alone on the run, gave me but a mere taste of this isolation.

So, as I approach this next placement I remember this race – not only was it the beginning of an incredible journey with the most supportive, intelligent, compassionate and hilarious cohort, but a “three- legged lesson”- that any Nurse who chooses to show the compassion to walk with their patient through any illness is the mark of an excellent one.

When we find a cure for cancer we can finally answer these questions and obliterate the terrifying question of “Well, is it terminal?”

Cancer hijacks and mutates more than just cells, but entire lives too-thank you to everyone who supported us financially and by turning up on the day, you helped us become one step closer to finding a cure.

Peace and love, Danielle xx

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