By: Meagan Spalding – Projects Coordinator, Cancer Companions Ministry
What is one thing many people don’t know about your area of expertise?
Our cancer patients come to us primarily for Port Placements, but my focus is helping the patient and the families cope with the current situation of their disease process.
I have seen patients that are in denial, I’ve had them speak to me about what they would have done differently in their lives and given me advice. I have also had them throw things at me, yell at me, and then break down crying as I comfort them. I have watched school age children wheel in their parents dying of cancer, and helped family members come to terms with their loved one.
Emotionally I am drained most days because the patients are in such stressful and anxiety filled situations, and I want them to know I truly care about them as a person.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is helping someone through the procedure. They can come in nervous, unsure of what will happen – and I get to be that person who explains things calmly and loves on them. I can be there for a person at sometimes their darkest time in their life. We have to be a light to every patient we meet. It is all about them.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome at work?
The greatest challenge for me is how to handle the sadness of diagnoses along the way. I had a very hard time my first year with cancer patients. There was one patient with little kids that explained to me the ages her kids were now would be the last age she sees. After taking care of her I did not know how to handle such heavy emotions.
The physician came up to me and said “Crystal, I know you have said you don’t understand how I can do this job day in and day out. Let me tell you how I look at things. We get to have this patient for 1-2 hours of their disease process. Our job is to make it the best possible experience – not add to their already hard experiences they are going to have and go through. We make this as easy and comforting as possible. It’s all we can do with the little time we have them.”
From that moment on I looked at it differently. Instead of a sad overwhelming feeling – I approached it as being blessed to help them when I did have them and be there for them.
This profession has its hard days, how do you fill your own cup?
I have a very long quiet time in the morning with God that consists of Bible reading, devotionals, book reading, yoga and stillness and silence. I also attend yoga classes and enjoy hiking, swimming, and going to the gym. Journaling with God has become a huge heart saver and helps me work through what I have to see at work. Even though I like my time alone – I love sharing time with close friends that are like family to me.
Do you know an Onco Hero that has an inspiring story to share and deserves recognition? Send your recommendations to Meagan Spalding at Meagan@cancer-companions.org for the chance to be featured in our next newsletter!