A World Without Pediatric Oncology Nurses

“Put me out of a job. Put us all out of a job”

There were a few of us sitting at the nurses station preparing for the day ahead of us. We were making small talk about childhood cancer, research funding and plans for the future. I hadn’t told many people of my future goals because I want to be sure they come true, but also because sometimes the goal feels too big and maybe little ole’ me shouldn’t strive to do all of the things I dream of.

Anyways, I was feeling excited so I shared with a few of my coworkers where I saw Fourth and Gold in the next 8 months. I could feel the giddiness in my voice when talking about it, I even made a joke regarding several people knocking on my door trying to get research funding. There was only 3 of my coworkers with me, and I swore them to secrecy (ahem Allie!), to which I knew they’d all respect my request, because, do they even think it could come true?

After we finished talking, I turned back around to finish up some computer work, my back turned to all of them, when Lindsey said

“Put me out of a job, Erin. Put us all out of a job.”

It took me a second to register what she said, but then it clicked and I smiled. These are the kind of pediatric oncology nurses I want to work with, these right here. The ones who love what they do, but hate that it’s a need. The ones that show up day in and day out, loving on families, but cursing the lack of research funding we have at our finger tips. The ones who text me at random hours asking questions about treatments, studies and bettering the life of a patient and family.

Pediatric oncology staff are a special bunch. We love our jobs, but we cringe at them, too. We’re incredibly excited when a child finishes treatment, but we’ll be more excited when a child doesn’t have to go through the grueling treatment. We love when your family becomes our family, but we’d love it just as much if we only saw you in public.

I say this so much that sometimes I think my fingers automatically start typing “childhood cancer research only receives 4% of all funding from the National Institute of Health” but the truth is- if I’m not screaming it for all of the exhausted families on the front lines of the war, who will?

I do my best to keep Fourth and Gold and Erin the nurse separate. I don’t talk about Fourth and Gold without prompt at work and my blogs about research and more funding don’t correlate with me as a nurse. I am a pediatric oncology nurse who treats patients with my resources available and I am a own a small business who fights for more research funding so one day my nurse job doesn’t exist. I love both of my roles, the only difference between the two, is I hope one of those roles doesn’t exist in the near future.

Yesterday confirmed what I’ve always assumed, pediatric oncology healthcare staff are the some of the most compassionate people I’ve ever worked with. We are in love with our jobs, but would give them up in a split second if the alternative were to come to fruition. Seriously. I love my job and calling it a job is kind of funny, because half the time, it just feels like I’m getting paid to do what I love to do– take care of the coolest kids in the world, play games with them, make them laugh, learn about who they are and what makes them happy and earn the trust of not only them, but their families too.

In order for pediatric oncology nurses to be out of a job, we have to fund and find a more humane cure for childhood cancer. We need to find treatment that doesn’t leave lifetime devastating affects. We need to find treatment that doesn’t do more harm than good. We need to find treatment that doesn’t last for 3 years and take away the ability to have children or need a heart transplant. We need to find treatment that works 100% of the time.

How can we do this? We can pledge to donate money to childhood cancer research foundations who work tirelessly to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Research organizations such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Beat NB, Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, CURE Childhood Cancer… and soon to be… Fourth and Gold Foundation (if you’re reading this far, here is a hint into the future 😉 )… they need our support. These foundations are very transparent about where your donation is going, what grant you are supporting and what type of cancer you are helping treat.

A world without pediatric oncology nurses… hmm… can you see it?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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