Thursday, March 07, 2013

Yet I Receive the Hugs

During my years of being a chemotherapy nurse I got to meet a lot of people. Even though it has been two and a half years since I gave my last drop of chemo, I still see patients from that time all around town. Yesterday, it happened again. I was shopping for groceries and I saw a former patient. When we first met, he was fighting a terrible cancer and I was one of his chemotherapy nurses. I run into him from time to time now as he works where I often shop. Seeing him always warms my  heart. We chatted for a few minutes. He spoke of his treatment and recovery, his remarkable recovery. Then we went our separate ways.

This particular patient was very, very ill at one time. As a matter of fact, there was a point when we were all afraid that he would not survive through his cancer treatment. He is a real quiet person who didn't freely complain but he really, really suffered and we knew it. Our hearts broke as we saw him lose more and more weight and become desperately ill. He suffered more than most.                                                                            

He did survive, though, and I get to receive the sweet hugs and smiles when I see him. He hugs me because he is just so grateful to be alive. He sees me as part of the reason he lives. I love seeing him. I always walk away feeling lighter. He makes me feel like a heroine.

After I left him yesterday, though, I started thinking about the other nurses that gave him chemotherapy. I plan to ask them if they ever see him. I know it would make them feel so good about the work we did together.  Then, I started thinking about how really it wasn't us who saved him. I was mentally giving credit to the doctor who prescribed the chemo that we gave. Her knowledge and expertise were what saved him.

After mentally honoring the doctor for a bit, I thought even further back in the process. I thought about those who worked years on clinical trials to test the medications we gave this patient. There were patients and clinical personnel alike who were a part of those trials. I mentally honored them for what they did to make these drugs available to our patient.

Then, I thought further back yet. Before the clinical trials there were scientists and other researchers who came up with the theories and recipes for chemo medications. These people work years to perfect their products. They likely never see the patients who benefit from their work. What I did as a chemotherapy nurse would not ever have been possible without all those people!  Behind every little vial of chemotherapy we put into our patients, there was years of work and likely hundreds or even thousands of people who played a part in making it available. They all deserve the credit.

Yet, I am the one who receives the hugs.
(photo from FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET / Bill Longshaw)

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