National Nurses Week

In honor of National Nurses Week, we’d like to say thanks to the nurses across the country for all that you do and to celebrate the important role you play in healthcare. As the backbone of medical care, nurses don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

Over the next few weeks, Humans of New York, a blog and bestselling book featuring street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York by Brandon Stanton, will be sharing stories from the Pediatrics Department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The stories will not only center on the war against cancer that the families and patients are facing but also the amazing doctors, nurses, and researchers who have committed their lives to this fight.

Here are some experts from one nurse, who wasn’t named on the site:

Nurse:

“The MDs build the treatment plan. The nurse’s job is to get it done. We’re the ones who are always there, making sure every single moment of every single day is the best it can possibly be. What’s going to take away that nausea? What’s going to take away that pain? How can we convince the doctor to let this kid see some sunshine? We know when the kid has a play at school. We know which massage therapist they love and which member of the family is most likely to persuade them to take their medicine. These kids rely on certain nurses like they’re gold. A lot of time these kids won’t listen to the doctor. But they’ll listen to their nurse.

A big part of a nurse’s job is translation. We have to turn medical language into common language. We explain the ‘why’s.’ Why they can’t eat. Why there is pain. Why their hair is falling out. You never know what those big medical words mean to a child, so we do everything we can to demystify them. If they play sports, we may describe their tumor as a baseball. And everyone knows that baseballs don’t belong in your belly. Ninety percent of them play video games, so sometimes the cancer is a monster. We’ve got to shoot the monster. We’ve got to bomb the monster. But we’re going to work together and get that monster. We’ll use any frame of reference that they understand: their favorite TV show, their favorite book, their favorite toy. And if we have an adolescent who’s a little bit angry, we’ll just shove our foot up the cancer’s ass.”

It doesn’t take long once you scroll through the 1,000 of comments on the HONY Facebook page and read all the postings from others sharing their own nurse stories to see the impact nurses have. From the point of view of the nurse, to the parent, to the patient— it’s a pretty powerful exchange of dialogue.

Again, we thank you for all that you do and we are honored to work with you.

You can read the Humans of New York stories here. For more information on National Nurses Week, you can visit the American Nurses Association page here.