We Talked To 3 Nurses About What It's Really Like Working With Kids With Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of the month, we will be highlighting the stories of those affected, as well as the people who come to their aid and help bring awareness to the issue.

Each year, about 175,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. "However, thanks to better therapies, more than 80 percent of U.S. childhood cancer patients now become long-term survivors," St. Jude Children's Research Hospital reports. 

Throughout college, I watched some of my friends dedicate their minds and time towards their respective nursing fields. Today, some of those friends are pediatric oncology nurses, working with patients in both New York and Pennsylvania. In an effort to raise awareness this September, I asked them: Why is this month so important to you? What is it about these kids inspires you to do your jobs?

Here are their responses: 

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1. Nurse Meghan Sansoni

Photo courtesy of Meghan Sansoni

"Whenever I tell people I work with kids with cancer, I always get the same response: 'That must be so hard.' What I don't think people understand is MY job is the easy part. Every day, I am humbled, honored, and empowered witnessing these kids go through unimaginable treatment, pain, pricks, all with an immeasurable strength that most adults could not even imagine. 

More times than it should, and with even the hardest fighters, cancer ends the fight for them. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, to me, is an opportunity to honor the kids we've lost too soon and to fight for the ones we have. We need to raise awareness and more importantly, funding, because these kids — my everyday heroes — deserve more than a fighting chance. They deserve a cure." 

2. Nurse Marissa Domsky

Photo courtesy of Marissa Domsky

"September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, but the fight against cancer is constant. When I think about why I do this job, it's simple: I do it for the kids. 

They are my heroes; their families are my heroes. I truly believe I will live to see the day that we find a cure for cancer ... but until that day comes, we continue to fight. It is an honor and privilege to be a pediatric oncology nurse for the bravest kids in the world!" 

3. Nurse Francesca Brackle

Photo courtesy of Francesca Brackle

"Recently I struggle when people ask me what kind of nursing I do. I used to be so enthusiastic with my response, "pediatric oncology!' But I have found myself less-giving when discussing my passion. Most usually the responses are, 'How can you do that?" or, 'That must be so depressing.'

The reason I don't feel so comfortable discussing this with family, friends, or even strangers isn't because what they say is right ... It's more because it's just the opposite, and I sometimes feel guilty attempting to convince them that my little unit is the place where I feel I experience life to the fullest.

The truth is that while some days are truly incredibly heartbreaking, I am part of a select group who get to meet the most amazing heroes and their families.  I feel that this is a privilege and a gift that I have been given. Most days I am being taught by toddlers what it means to truly live every day to the fullest, or laughing with teens who are texting or snap-chatting while inpatient getting treatment. Life has no choice but to go on here, and there is something absolutely hopeful about that.

I want to tell people how grateful I am that families let me in at their most vulnerable times, accepting me like I am a long time friend; sharing with me so much about their world. It is these relationships that I feel so lucky to have. So while at times this makes it deeply hard to let go when we lose a child, I have this love for their family that gives me the ability to care for them during their darkest moment. 

I wish people knew how much hope and joy happens around here. Even on the darkest days, these children and their families bring me so much light. I am the lucky one to have even a minute in their little world. September has become one of my favorite months because I get so excited to brag about these fighters."

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