I’m a stage IV inflammatory breast cancer patient (currently in remission) and I relied on nurses so much more than I could have imagined during my treatment.
I had two rounds “traditional” chemo, and when that failed I miraculously got into a clinical trial, which involved more chemo for six months, and then had 40 days of radiation as well as a double mastectomy, salpingo-oophorectomy, and 19 lymph nodes removed. I then had reconstructive surgery. So I encountered a lot of nurses!
The nurses become a go-to in the oncology world. Particularly if you’re treated at a larger hospital or medical center, reaching a nurse is a lot easier than reaching a doctor. And this is true well into survivorship, when you have questions (more and more questions) that aren’t necessarily life-threatening but definitely impact your quality of life.
What I got the most from nurses was their insight. The surgical nurses had advice that I hadn’t heard from a doctor, and I relied heavily on my radiation therapy nurse to help me through the skin issues and other side effects. In general, nurses are more likely to see you as a whole person (remember your kids’ names, or your pet’s name) and help you improve your quality of life. They spend more time with you than your physicians, and they’re willing to discuss things more at length than doctors have time for.
-Laura Holmes Haddad, author of “This Is Cancer: Everything You Need To Know, From The Waiting Room To The Bedroom”