Monday, March 27, 2017

The Oncology Floor

What is it like to receive treatment on the Oncology Floor?

Our eyes are naive, we take in a scene we've been a silent observer of for years.  The children who battle cancer, who battle blood disorders, those who just well, battle.   We're naive.  Our eyes are new to your floor where you battle. It's our first time.  Prior to receiving treatment on the Oncology Floor we had received treatment in a "Day Hospital" setting or a Clinical Research Unit floor where every child has something different including cancers, rare cancers, brain cancers and the like.  We've never been to the Oncology Floor for treatment though.

On the Oncology Floor there's a certain feeling, a specific, prevalent feeling of optimism.  You can feel it in the air when you're there.  It surrounds you whether you know it or not, whether you understand what is really there or not.  It's optimism.

We actually feel honored to be a part of the Oncology Family.  The staff.  The staff is aware.  You can see the experience in their eyes, you can feel the special love that only Oncology knows for their patients and families.  They're not just treating the patient.  They are treating a family, the whole family.  There's a feeling of mutual respect, a feeling of mutual admiration.  We've been around the block a lot with medicine and therapies and when you get this feeling, it is special.

Not only is it in the air of the Oncology Floor, you can see it in action. Just meeting the nurses once, and they tell you they admire you.  They tell you they think you're amazing, that you embody optimism. They tell you they're in awe of you.  Why?  They say they can't believe we work, have two children with a rare, devastating illness and we have a son who doesn't have this illness...and that we're so optimistic. We administer treatments at home and they are in awe.   We are their primary caregivers, not a physician, not a nurse, not a therapist; we are. They see how positive and calm we are, they do and they recognize it.  We need them.  They are us.  They are on our team.  Together, we mutually admire one another. We do.

Music Therapy comes by and Nick proceeds to stump the therapist with his song requests.  We laugh together, and recognize how unbelievably hard it is to sing in front of people you just met.  Child Life makes sure Nick knows what is going to happen, and gets to his level.  The head of the department, so humble, and kind, a calm, steady leader.  We meet the Pharmacist who mixes the medicines to save lives, he too is interested, and kind and humble.  It's a team feeling with an underlying theme of experience, gratitude, and heart wrenching perseverance.

Respectful of other patients, we don't look.  We don't inquire.  We just know.  Their battles are unbelievable, the biggest of challenges. Their faces are adorable, and sweet still with some form of innocence.  It's still there.  Utter sweetness.  Their siblings bring the latest thing they're selling at school.  The nurses welcome them and peruse when they have time or they make time to pay attention to that child.  It is a calm, steady, loving pace. The rush comes in the afternoon as school lets out.  Live then battle, live then battle then battle to live.  Could you imagine after a full day of school?

We are at home. We are grateful, and we are humbly optimistic.

The Cherrstrom Family