Things That Oncology Nurses Want You To Know About Cancer
This story is part of a series in which Avera nurses and other care-team members share their perspectives on the cancer journey and how they keep patients at the center of everything they do.
Tina Schaap, RN, BSN, clinic nurse, Avera Medical Group Hematology and Transplant, has worked in nursing for 11 years. These are some important ideas she tries to share with everyone for whom she cares.
We want you to know that you’re a person first, not just a patient.
You’ll never be a number – or on this journey alone. We will be with you each step of the way and never let you remain in the dark in terms of understanding how we’ll establish goals and accomplish them together. We may not know exactly how you feel – but we realize the cancer diagnosis can make you feel like your world has been thrown upside-down. We will help with that – by explaining things, taking the time to make sure it’s all clearly explained.
And it’s not just about your treatment. It’s about your life. We will do what we can to make sure you can trust us to be there and to guide you, as a person, through this journey.
Opening up takes time – and we’ll hold the door. Not talking is OK, too.
The process of fighting cancer is one where you are not alone – but also one where you determine the pace at which you share your perspectives with our care team. You’re at the center of all we do.
Sometimes we describe it as opening a door. We want to remind you that it’s OK if you don’t feel like talking. Maybe during the first visit you have nothing to say. We realize that we’re not just treating your body, we’re helping you mentally and spiritually as well.
Treatment is not all “cut and dried” – it varies greatly from one person to another and there are many other things that come into play. That’s why we have such a big team, with lots of experts, who can help you no matter what you face.
The care team is completely unified – we’re all here for you, from your first visit to your last appointment and beyond.
Your nurses will be there for you, during each exam or chemotherapy appointment, but the care continues beyond our group. We have social workers and experts in billing who can help you face those challenges.
We have a large group of physicians, many of whom are the best in their areas of specialization, and you have their help as a whole, not just as individuals. You’ll also interact with our counselors if you wish, along with chaplains, who can provide insight that may help you as you make the journey.
When the time is right, we also offer physical and occupational therapy, so that when you are ready to return to work or to independent life, you’ll have support in doing so. You won’t be on your own.
The whole is not just a sum of the parts. It’s a strong team, and each group, from nursing to social work to doctors to our reception team, knows that it cannot do it all by themselves.
We strive to provide the compassion that Avera is known for. Our mission is something we work on every day, and something we discuss as teams. It’s a distinct effort, and one we tailor for each individual.
A few additional thoughts on the reality of cancer.
Cancer treatment is hard. There’s going to be hard days, sometimes anger gets the best of patients or members of their families. We understand that – stress levels are high. We will always do our best to reassure you, your family – everyone who has your back as you make this journey – that we’ll be there with you from start to finish. Reach out to us and we’ll make sure you have everything you need.