canser patient who dies

Specialties Oncology



I am working in a high tech unit with sarcoma patiens. IV therapy, the another bag after the another is the main thing. Its very sad seeing them struggle for life thrue chemo in high doses, and not making it. Maybee we save one of four patient, and of course its worth it. THE ONE PERSON. But all the suffering! Its VERY hard to see. Children from 8 to 20, and of course older persons, and their family.

We dont see the outpatients coming thrue the therapy, just - or allmost just the suffering. Does anyone have the same experience? How would you deal with it?


sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

I don't know, Florry.

I personally would not be able to do it, especially with children.

God bless you for being there.


180 Posts

I think; the day I am loosing my vulnerability (maybee its spelled wrong..), I dont fit in to NURSING. But the border between empathy and distance is very hard. I cant bee depressed, but neither have too much distance.

This year I have experienced that the child of one of my 40 years patients with sarcoma commited suicide.

The doctor in our unit did the same after he discovered a benign tumor cerebri.

Another boy of one of my patients was killed in a traffic accident.

May bee I sound depressed, and may bee I am.

At the same time I compare to nursing homes (were I have had a job some years ago), and the old patients WANTED TO DIE. As a nurse I have to encorage the patient and family to find a meaning to live.

ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT ITS VERY HARD! The most importent thing I can think I can do is to bee there, with the patients. and their family.

Does anyone have some similar experience?

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

Florry, it is so hard to see someone suffer, I think maybe you need a break from oncology nursing for a while, can you transfer to another unit?

sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

Ditto bad bird.

At the very least, Florry, you need to discuss with someone your feelings about collegues and clients commiting suicide. This may be affecting you more than you realize.

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

I ocassionally work extra shifts in another unit such as Family care (mother - baby). It tends to be a happy shiny place, for a change.

Also, have done community care - assisted an MD w/free clinic uninsured.

A friend of mine works PRN at the local University Health Center - it lets her have library and gym privileges and she gets to work with young adults (a lot of birth control/"lost" condoms etc. but a definite change from Onco.


180 Posts

Thank you for answering all of you!

Yes, just now I have a break from job, and try to find someone to discuss the thing with. We have a good clinical pastor at the hospital, and I am using him.

I know I am doing a good job as a nurse, but now my head and body has told me that its time for doing a break! I have migraine allmost twice a week and feel excausted! Thank God, I have a good doctor that said to me; try to do something you really want to, she gave me permission not to work, and still get payed!

I love swimming, golf in the summer, theatre, books, but right now the battery is burned out! - and I feel so alone!!! I cant tell my family about all the horrible things at work, its not etic.

The "problem" is that I am totally passive. Burned out for a while?

Allthough I am a creative and (in my eyes) an intelligent person!

Does other sometime feel the same?

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