I worked as a pharmacy tech for a cancer clinic before becoming a nurse for a few years. I mixed all the meds mentioned in the article as well ("...cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, fluorouracil, methotrexate. And the list went on. “Yeah, I worked with all of them,” she said
Even though we also had a laminar flow hood, used gloves, gowns, masks, and foot covers, I still was exposed to some meds by accidently being sprayed upon when drawing up the medication or by dropping vials which had the chemo agent in powder form (accidentally breathing it in) and/or having to clean up spills from puntured IV bags with chemo in it, etc... All incidents where rare and far inbetween but sometimes they happened as you go get the supplies and meds you needed BEFORE you were to put them in the protective flow hood to get them prepped for mixture.
I remember trying to get pregnant for 2 years while I worked there and couldn't, which was unusual because I had gotten pregnant the 1st time very easily when I was not
working as a Chemo tech. I even mentioned it to a safety OSHA official of the hospital and he blew me off and told me it must have been related to another health issue of mine and that they had very good safety protocols in place.
Then a co-worker (also a pharmacy tech who worked there for 14 - 15 years) was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had brain surgery and survived but we always wondered if it was work related. She continues to work at that cancer clinic.
When I finally quit because I wanted to go to nursing school
, they were starting to use the completely closed air flow hood where you put your arms into these very thick gloves that were attached inside the metal work area. However, this flow hood was optional
to use and many of the pharmacists and techs didn't use it because it was to bothersome and the gloves were hard to work with.
To this day I still tell my husband that I will not be surprised if I am one day diagnosed with cancer. But even if I were to, I know I would not be listened to if I ever were to put in a work claim or whatever just because my Mom also died of cancer at 59 and I was a smoker for a few years as well (quit in 2001). I will never know for sure if it will be work related or not, if due to family history, or due to my stupidity of smoking.
That is why I truly admire those Oncology nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy techs who do their job to save others while taking a risk of their own. That is the highest example of compassion and caring that I know and it broke my heart and I cried with Sue Crump's video which is found in this article. She gave her own life to save others.