Dear Breast Cancer Patient,
I have to admit that I feel like the world doesn’t have a complete understanding of how bad this disease still can be. Thankfully, because of research and screenings many women can battle this disease and still have a long healthy life, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
I was a new grad and I had yet to see a breast cancer diagnosis when I opened the chart, but I can remember you, my first breast cancer patient. You were a young women in your 30’s and your disease was everywhere. You were in severe pain from bone mets and my heart broke for you. All you did was stand on your leg to go to the bathroom and it cracked in half because of disease eating away at your bones. It was there in your room as you cried out in pain that I, a new grad nurse, learned a new side of breast cancer, the side that is not often seen, the side that needs to be spoken about.
As I continued my inpatient journey I continued to meet you. Some of you were paralyzed and your life was forever changed due to your mets. Some of you had infection due to tumors. Some of you I met at the end of your battle as you took your last breaths on this earth. You have all impacted me.
At this stage in my career I am walking with you as your chemo nurse. My eyes are opened more than ever to how horrible this disease can be. Breast cancer patient you are that 1 out of 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer. You have the cancer that is most commonly diagnosed in women. You unfortunately have been handed the disease that is the 2nd leading cause of death of women.
I’ve changed your dressings from your tumor that is bursting through your skin. I’ve comforted you as your pain is so severe because of the cancer eating away the skin on your chest. I remember that time when I had to send you to get a stat CT because we were afraid you had a pulmonary embolism, but in the end it was the sad news that the cancer had spread to your lungs and there was a large amount of fluid build up. I’m seeing more sides of your disease every week, and they are ugly.
Breast cancer patient, you amaze me. As you are crying in pain, hating the fact that you have to take oxy to keep your pain at bay, you still smile at me and say to me “my nursey“. You sit with me and look at pictures of my niece and nephew and tell me about all the things your beautiful young kids are doing. You are my hero. I learn a whole new side of what love looks like from you and your husband. The look he has in his eyes is one of the deepest of love I have ever seen. The way you and he work as a team and know each other so well is incredible.
Breast cancer patient, don’t lose your spunk. Keep wearing your crazy hats, keep rocking that G.I. Jane look, and don’t you ever lose your ability to look at the bright side. But know this, it is perfectly ok to have bad days. It is perfectly ok to be in a funk. It is more than fine if you need to cry your eyes out during each chemo treatment. Know this, that through every good news I will rejoice with you, through every bad news I will cry with you, and throughout the days of my life, I will fight this battle alongside you and fight for a cure for this disease. Thank you for blessing my life breast cancer patient. Thank YOU for fighting with grace and passion. Thank you for being you.
Be brave. Be bold. Be beautiful.
With a grateful heart,
One of your nurses