I am not a nurse yet, not even apcepted to my program as yet, but i work pretty closely with cancer patients and get to know them. Unfortunately my population are those who have failed conventional chemo in the high stages of cancer and are now trying research alternatives. That being said, i have lost several patients that i have grown attach too, seen their husbands/wives/babies etc. I have been through it for 3 yrs and now i am to that point where i am simply numb. I also lost my grandmother who raised me, to cancer and I lost a close cousin (my age) who drowned.
The one patient that impacted me the most was one of my favorates who was so feisty and spirited. The day she found out she had cancer was the first day i met her. She cried at my desk, this was when i was just beginning and i was a receptionist so to speak, before i moved into the clinical setting to work with the nurses i do now. She cried her heart out at my desk with her husband and daughter there. The next week she had to come for her first chemo, she had shaved all her hair off and was ready to go at it like a warrior and we were attached to each other since then. The week that she lost her fight, her MD's assistant called me from my unit (at this time i had transitioned into the research unit,) and she pretty much told me to come down and say goodbye because the MD did not give her to the weekend to live. She was a shell of herself when I saw her, it was almost like she had given up and i know she didn't she fought to the bitter end. Even when she went in for surgery for brain mets, i went to visit her on my lunch break and she was still as feisty as ever. The last day i saw her, I hugged her, kissed her and told her that everything would be ok and i never saw her again. From that day on i was numb to death.
I know to say i am numb sounds harsh but its the truth, i know i feel something for a moment, i just dont know what and then i am numb to it. Im to the point where i am programmed to see it coming and just say god bless so and so, and move on. Sometimes i think something is seriously wrong with me because the only way i can discribe it is numbness.
The one thing i can say that no matter what has happened in my experience it has not stopped me from getting attached to my patients, its just something i do and i can't help it.