Years after my cancer experience I became a nurse and began my career in the Operating room. This was great for my mental health because I did not become too attached to the patients. I loved anatomy in school so the Operating Room was an exciting choice. A few years later I became complacent, wanted to return to school for a masters in nursing education but lacked the well rounded experience such an educator needs. I decided to try my hand at adult oncology. Though I do not regret working with dying patients that reminded me every day of the hell I survived, it was so draining on myself and my family that counseling was in order once I realized what was happening. It was so difficult to separate my own emotions from these people, these families, these gut wrenching sob stories. I never had enough time to give them the care that every dying patient deserves. That is what is such crap about health care today. Those that have no hope and haven't made the decision for a DNR get placed with those that are still avidly fighting. It is a harsh reality for most of the family members as well, that they will probably have to make some decisions pretty soon as well. So you can imagine that the air on an oncology floor is filled with tension.
Once I realized I could not work in oncology any longer it was a burden off my chest. I think I was just reliving my experience day in and day out. My hats off to all of the excellent oncology nurses, especially those who took care of me and inspired my going into the nursing field, but it is definitely not for me. I realized that I was pushing too hard and that I needed to do what made me happy, not pursue the ideas of what made me happy, but what actually perpetuated the contentment with life.
So I'm back to the OR and I am proud of who I am and what I do. I still get to take care of patients but in a very different way.
To all you survivors, take care of yourself and don't push too hard on ideas that seem great but just don't fit or when you realize you are, take a step back and analyze.