During my cancer recovery, I had many, many stays in the hospital. As a 10 year old, I dreaded every visit. Mainly because of the treatments, but there was also the boredom. A stay meant being isolated in your hospital room with nothing but a TV for entertainment. So naturally, I would bring a bunch of video games and a collection of DVDs to keep me company.
But nothing I brought provided much comfort. It was only the nurses treating me who made my stays more tolerable. They could always put a smile on my face, even through the worst of my cancer treatment.
Just one example that stands out was my morning ritual with a nurse who we’ll call Claire. I had a schedule for medication, so every morning Claire would come in with a little cup of pills for me to take while she checked my vitals. One day she came just as the Price is Right, my favorite game show, was coming on. Claire quickly recognized my excitement as they started calling contestants down to play. So she started guessing prices and laughing along with me. Even after she finished her vitals check, she would drop in periodically throughout the hour to ask me how the contestants were doing. She recognized that I enjoyed watching the show with her, so she started coming by my room everyday around 10 am to play along with me and Drew Carey. This small bit of kindness made may have been insignificant for her, but it made taking those bitter pills so much more bearable.
And it wasn’t just Claire. All the oncology nurses found ways to distract me from my situation and make my stay just a little better. Everything from sneaking me an extra cup of ice cream from the cafeteria to playing cards with me. They may have been small gestures, but to me, they were huge acts of kindness that still radiate in my memory.
As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In those moments, the nurses who treated me made me feel like more than just a cancer patient, they made me feel like a kid again.
As a survivor, I have so much to be thankful for: my loving family, my health, being able to jump in a pool, or even simply my soft down pillow. But on this Thanksgiving, I really wanted to highlight all those nurses at Kaiser Permanente. Their care and empathy, were an essential part of my treatment and healing (as they are for many others). This is too often forgotten.
They were a key part of my story and shaped me to becoming a stronger, healthier, more confident person. Through these interactions, they inspired me to be my best self and help those who really need it. So today, I am thankful for not just the nurses who treated me, but all nurses. Your loving support means more to us patients than you know.