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ADVICE NEEDED

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Recently I was hired as an RN at a Cancer Agency. In fact just finished my first week of orientation. I am having a horrible emotional battle, as my wife has had cancer three times, and when I was sixteen yrs. of age my mother died a horrible death from cancer. Every day thus far has been a battle and I need some advice on dealing with my emotions. Any advice would be appreciated.

I am a survivor, and I am looking at a position at my oncology group. I would appreciate any advice regarding whether I should or should not reveal my survivor status in a cover letter or interview (I will be recognized, if I get the job, so it isn't a secret). I don't know how to approach the subject.

Many have advised that it can be emotionally difficult for survivors, and employees with close history of cancer in loved ones, to work at a cancer treatment center. I can't tell you what will help you at work because I do not have a job in a center just yet, but I can tell you what I do to deal with my own trauma and the fears I have for the people I love.

Go to a regular support group meetings for spouses/children of cancer patients. My family found it very helpful to be around others and listen to their means of getting through the stress.

Work out, or do something active. I do an hour an evening so that I can be tired enough for bed without my brain playing tricks on me.

And finally, if you can't manage your stress and emotions in this new position, maybe it just isn't where you need to be as a nurse? That isn't a bad thing! Nursing jobs are not 'one size fits all'. And if you remain so stressed and unhappy with where you are, what is the point of remaining there? You need to be fulfilled in whatever job you do in life, or you will be unhappy.

I apologize if this isn't much help. I wish you and your wife all the best!

Thank You for the advice. We are going to Disneyland for 10 days very soon, so I plan to give it some deep thought. I don't want to feel like I'm quitting, but honestly I have never felt this uncomfortable in my 38 yrs of Nursjng.

I can certainly understand the need for deep consideration. I hope you have a wonderful time at Disney, and do try to relax while there. All the best!

If you can learn to cope with your feelings, you have much to offer a patient that is struggling with a difficult diagnosis. You are a cancer survivor as much as your wife is because you have seen her through so much. I have told nurses many times that in Oncology (probably more than any other specialty) we provide care for the entire family, not just the patient. When the nurse is a survivor you can actually tell the patient, "I know what you are going through."

The thing is unless you can find a comfortable place emotionally, you cannot help others. I know that my patients fill me up with energy and an earnest desire to help them through their struggles. If you can visualize yourself being the nurse that honors your wife and mother by providing the care that you know the cancer patient needs, perhaps you can find the comfortable place. What kind of care have you experienced your wife receiving during her journey? Could it have been better? Could you make that experience better for the next patient? It is okay to admit that you think often about your wife and mother as you teach the patient or administer the chemotherapy. What you are doing is in honor of them. You carry them with you proudly each day as you enter the clinic. It is because of them and their experiences that you can make your patient's experience (however long or short it may be) better.

I hope that you can find your way. But you have to be first in your own consideration. You cannot continue to support your wife as a survivor if you feel like your patients are draining your emotions. Have a great time at Disney.

My original post was August 24/14, in which I stated that I was having a terrible time dealing with "my" emotions, working in a cancer Centre. All of you were so helpful providing advice, etc. and I thank you all. Jump forward to the present, and my world has changed dramatically as far as my thoughts about cancer care and pts/ families aware concerned. I LOVE IT. If I had of known then what I know now, I probably would have forgone critical care and worked oncology. I probably needed to get over "the hump" which I did, now I feel that I have lots to offer. However, last week I was told by our coordinator that I was "at the end of my career" and there were many younger nurses looking for work , so I probably would not be getting much work. I would welcome any input or thoughts to this statement, as this is the first time in my career that I have ever been told this. Actually having a terrible time. What To Do?

I would say to keep a journal/log of age related statements said to you by your coordinator for your records. If he/she starts to not schedule you and instead schedules the younger nurses because you are "at the end of your career," then I would consider talking to HR about discriminatory scheduling and possibly consulting an employment lawyer to see if you have a case.

This is just my .02. Good luck!