Kim Brown, RN, Baptist Health Paducah

As a new graduate, I had no idea what area of nursing I wanted to work in. A specialized field of nursing was not even a thought at that time. Not knowing what was in store for me, I was eager to accept any position that was offered. After several interviews for my first “real” nursing job, I was overwhelmed with different emotions and I can still remember praying these words, “Lord, put me where I need to be”.

A few days passed and I was offered an oncology nursing position at Baptist Health. Oncology was an area that I had not put much thought in but I was excited and ambitious to start my nursing career. After 20 years in oncology nursing, I know my prayer was answered that day and I was indeed put exactly where I needed to be.

Oncology nursing has been a very rewarding profession for me as a person and a nurse. Oncology nurses are with cancer patients during some of their most vulnerable moments and we learn some of life’s most valuable lessons from our patients. Even though there have been some tears of sadness along the way, there have been far more smiles and laughter in my nursing journey.

In the oncology world, we celebrate. We celebrate big moments and small moments with our patients. I have been able to celebrate countless last day chemo treatments with patients and be a part of many last day treatment pictures with my patients. I have witnessed many of my patients meeting their personal goal of celebrating some of life’s most important events like their grandchild’s birth, their son’s graduation or making it to their daughter’s wedding. When these patients return for treatment, they immediately share those life moments with us, the nurse. Patients look for you each treatment day, and we are looking for them. The care we provide to oncology patients is so much more than nursing procedures, protocols and medication administrations. There are moments when an unexplained bond forms between you and your patient. You become more than just a nurse and they treat you as if you are friend. When these patients or families return to the hospital after a long period of time and ask to see you, that is when you realize YOU made a difference.

Some of my most memorable nursing experiences as an oncology nurse have been holding the hand of a patient while they took their last breath, comforting a family member when their loved one passed, listening to a patient tell his granddaughters life story before she lost her battle with cancer, comforting a patient after she was told she only had a few weeks to live, and receiving a long hug from a patient knowing I would never see her again. These are not sad memories for me; they were moments I was given. Moments that have become part of my journey. Nursing is more than my profession, it is my story, my purpose.