What is the worst thing you've witnessed as an oncology nurse? - page 3

HI, you might recognize me from such posts as; "whats is like to be an oncology nurse" and "whats the worst thing you have seen in the burn unit" Anyhow, i am curious to know what the worst... Read More

  1. by   kario
    What are great thing you are doing.!!! Iam sorry for your Mom's passing at such an early age to you.

    That quote "If God brings it to you, then he will bring you through it", is one that is going bring me through nursing school.

    Good Luck to you. Your Mom is smiling down at you.


    Quote from momx2
    It takes a special person to be an oncology nurse. I could never do it. I am 23 years old now and I was 8 years old holding my mom's hand begging her not to leave me. Yes, she had the dreadful word, malignant lymphoma. The nurses were so wonderful. They let me play with all the equipment (whether it was her home health nurse or her nurse at the hospital) If you are an oncology nurse, you have no idea what you mean to me. My very first clinical on the oncology floor, I had a pt with Gastric Cancer. Guess what, he died while I was caring for him. Every nurse is special, but to me oncology nurses are extra special. I said when my mom died that I was going to be a nurse, and the oncology nurses are the reason why. I just wish I could do it.
    Last edit by Ted on Oct 5, '04
  2. by   beckymcrn
    found this poen one day while searching for something. I love it and thought all of you may too.

    I Sometimes I See their Faces

    By Connie Followwill

    Sometimes I see their faces as I gaze into the stars
    I feel the echo of their pain. I see the outline of their scars.
    So many people I have seen lose at the same game.
    They fight the war most valiantly, but death soon calls their name.


    Each one has a story that told only to a few select.
    To the ones who have the time to listen and who know compassion's effect.
    Being that "one" isn't easy. On your heart it takes a toll.
    Their stories tug at your emotions. They touch the edge of your soul.


    But you can't imagine not doing; the job God gave you to do.
    For even though there is pain, there are so many treasures too.
    Meeting people and hearing, them tell of all their lives have been.
    Success, failure, sorrow, and joy, Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win.

    Lending a hand to someone in need. There is no greater feeling of worth.
    Then to comfort another, help a friend. It's the greatest feeling on earth.
    Cancer is such a vicious thing. It strips them of so much.
    Their life, their independence, their dignity. But it can't take away your touch.

    Your touch of caring compassion, To let them know you care.
    And that they are still a valuable person, even if they do not have any hair.
    My heart dances with those who are winning the battle, I see them healthy and strong.
    But my heart breaks with those who are losing. I feel their loss in their Swan Song.


    Each one leaves a jewel with me, that I cannot explain.
    What little I have to give does not compare to all I have gained.
    And still...

    Sometimes I see their faces as I gaze into the stars.
    I feel the echo of their pain. I see the outline of their scars.
  3. by   chemoqueen
    As oncology nurses who spend more time c the patient and families that the MD, it is our responsibility to be an advocate for our patients. We need to talk c the patients and find out their wishes in regard to tx and give them the benefit of our knowledge as to how that will affect their QOL. It is then our responsibility to relay that info the the docs.--Phyllis

    Quote from earle58
    THAT'S what i have the problems with too; when mds just don't know when to let it be...it makes for horrible time remaining, often in the hospital and not at home, where they should be. :angryfire
  4. by   mattsmom81
    Both my parents died peaceful deaths, thank God for good healthcare providers! Mom died in an oncology unit within days of being dx with inoperable mets to liver, Dad died at home with hospice supervising.There should be no reason for a patient to die in pain and agony with all we have to offer today.

    A good death, Ted...yes we can all strive for this.. for our patients and ourselves.
  5. by   Purlple
    One lady had cancer spread to her lungs and liver. I guess someone told her daughter who was 8 y.o. The girl was crying for so long. The patient was calm until the daughter was in the hospital. As soon as she left, the lady started to weep. We had to close the door to her room but you could still hear it everywhere in the hall. I could hear her screaming "I'm scared". I think she was scared to leave her child. I had tears on my eyes as I heard it.
    Last edit by Purlple on Oct 6, '04
  6. by   Elsbet
    A necrotizing Burketts Lymphoma eating a hole in a 22 year olds peri-area. Horrid!
  7. by   renerian
    Errosive breast CA

    Cancer of the brain and stem with erosion/herniation to the oral cavity

    Oral cancer, the smell and the deformity that can accompany it

    renerian
  8. by   elthia
    Prostate cancer that erupted through the surface of the lower abdomen and the periarea. the foley was 4 months old, but everyone including GU said to just keep it patent because there was no way to get another in.

    The skin eaten away from an arm that the portacath failed and leaked vincristine.

    A patient with mets to the sacralbones with pathological fx who was in uncontrolled pain. He went two days without sleeping becuase he was holding himself off the bed with the trapeze bar. He screamed if you touched him at any area below the waist. He was on a morphine drip, I titrated him from around 20 mg/hour to 120 mg/hour over the course of 10 hours under the MD's supervision. After a week or so he was on a fentanyl drip at around 26000mcg/hour, I never saw him again after that, he had to be transferred due to infection control issues, so I don't know what the final rate was. I've only been in oncology for just over a year, and I remember thinking that he was on enough narcotics to kill all of the other patients and staff on the floor, and it still wasn't enough for him.
  9. by   nurse_clown
    I've been an oncology/palliative care nurse for about a year. The worst thing for me to see is patients who are dying alone. There was a 51 year old man who had lung cancer. No one came to visit him. I tried to call his sister many many times to tell inform her of his condition. She never came. He was in so much pain and he was unresponsive. It took him 10 days to die. His sister showed up to collect his death certificate and estate. Real nice.

    He didn't die alone. I sat with him and held his hand for as long as I could. I told him that he wasn't alone.

    Seeing patients who are lonely and afraid is very difficult to witness. I can handle the ruptures, pleural effusions, MI's you name it. I can't handle someone being in pain, or all alone when they are dying.
  10. by   RNinPA
    The saddest I have seen was a mother who had been accused of munchausen by proxy but her daughter actually had an aggressive brain tumor
  11. by   missy2b
    Saddest--25 y/o single mother with successful tx for aplastic anemia who killed herself because her parents took her children away from her. She loved those kids soooo much and never complained during her months in the hospital because she was going to see them again.

    Most disgusting--Pt with no skin left from chronic GVH who emitted green ooze that had to be debrided BID. He also grew invasive aspergillus that not only went into his brain but protruded from his forehead and was the size of a small candy bar. He smoked pot and had an HIV+ wife. I covered every inch of skin I could before I went in there.

    Other disgusting: Another allo with GVH of everything who was DNR. Died sitting up and apparently had a bowel obstruction. The tech and I laid him down to clean him up and over a liter of feces (or something foul) came out his mouth and nose. I just sat there with the suction for over 30 minutes alternating holes.
  12. by   TweetiePieRN
    Quote from missy2b
    Saddest--25 y/o single mother with successful tx for aplastic anemia who killed herself because her parents took her children away from her. She loved those kids soooo much and never complained during her months in the hospital because she was going to see them again.

    Most disgusting--Pt with no skin left from chronic GVH who emitted green ooze that had to be debrided BID. He also grew invasive aspergillus that not only went into his brain but protruded from his forehead and was the size of a small candy bar. He smoked pot and had an HIV+ wife. I covered every inch of skin I could before I went in there.

    Other disgusting: Another allo with GVH of everything who was DNR. Died sitting up and apparently had a bowel obstruction. The tech and I laid him down to clean him up and over a liter of feces (or something foul) came out his mouth and nose. I just sat there with the suction for over 30 minutes alternating holes.
    WOW! Missy, your last portion here about the liter of feces coming out of mouth and nose...had that happen to me too. 1st it was flowing out of pts anus like a faucet. When that stopped it came out of her nose and mouth...and her EYES!! GROSS! I love working oncology, but yes, we sure do see alot of crazy and horrible things too.
  13. by   barefootlady
    Discussing the horrible sights,smells, and pain of cancer is not my thing.
    I hope to be with that few patients who need assistance when its time
    to pass over. Dying alone, in fear and in pain cannot be described until
    you have seen it. Families who are so scared and helpless just need that
    support we can give when others are not available. I count my blessings
    everyday now, remembering tomorrow holds no promise of continued good
    health, happiness, or companionship.

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