Nurses are a central component of cancer care – they provide unwavering support, compassion and care to patients and families. BC Cancer nurses support patients and their families through their diagnosis, guide them through treatment, comfort them in times of need, and celebrate their victories. While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted health services across all fields, nurses at BC Cancer have continued to be resilient by providing the person-centered care that patients expect.
Ruby Gidda is the interim director, Professional Practice Nursing, at BC Cancer.
“Nurses are essential partners who help patients through treatment, follow-up, managing symptoms and side effects. Oncology nurses are compassionate and provide critical care to their patients. They are vital to cancer care and the patient’s journey. They care deeply for the patients and are willing to go the extra mile for the patients to ensure their journey is seamless.”
This year, nurses have had to adapt to new safety protocols, including using enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE), and have gone above and beyond to provide support and compassion to patients who have been hesitant to receive care at the centres.
Dustin MacKay, is a nurse at BC Cancer – Prince George.
“Some patients have expressed concerns and fears about coming in for their treatments. Since the beginning of the COVID outbreak BC Cancer has implemented changes to protect the safety of the patients coming into the centre. Explaining our processes to patients and having the entrances monitored for symptomatic people has been reassuring for patients and staff. Meeting patients where they are at in regards to their own challenges and struggles is the best way to make a therapeutic connection and hopefully help ease some of their concerns.”
Joanne Martens is a nurse at BC Cancer – Surrey.
“We have been able to adapt our nursing care to ensure that they have the tools to look after themselves at home. Sometimes we write things down for patients, provide handouts, speak with family members on the phone, or simply ensure that we spend the few extra minutes to let our patients know that we are there to support them, they are not alone. One of my favourite things to witness is how much the patients support one another. Within each pod, there may be up to 4 patients. Sometimes they visit with one another but even if they don't, when they leave, they usually acknowledge the other patients in the pod, whether it is eye contact, wishing well, giving blessings, or just simple good luck/goodbye, it is an act of community and support for one another, which is an honour to watch. Each day we get to witness how resilient our patients are in the face of both cancer and COVID.”
The 7 o’clock cheer that took place during the first wave of the pandemic meant a lot to Ruby, Dustin, Joanne, and all of the BC Cancer staff.
“The 7 o’clock cheer has been heartwarming to know people in the community acknowledge the challenges faced by people working in the front line,” says Dustin.
“I often felt like I was joining in on the cheer, routing for and thankful for, my colleagues who were working directly with the COVID positive population, and also indirectly behind the scenes to detect, treat and prevent it from spreading. The 7 o'clock cheer was such a sign of love and respect for the healthcare professions,” adds Joanne.
Reflecting on Oncology Nursing Day this year, Ruby adds, “Oncology Nursing Day is a time to reflect and appreciate oncology nurses for all they do. They play a vital role for our patients and their families by providing support, superior care and this creates a lasting bond.”
To thank an oncology nurse, visit www.bccancer.bc.ca/thanks.