Everyday Superheroes:
The Oncology Edition

Today is World Cancer Day, which aims to promote research, improve patient services, raise awareness and, above all, prevent cancer.  We know so many of you are working to fight this terrible disease and are so inspired by you. These are the stories from two of the incredible women in our Jaanuu fam.

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Name: Dr. Jesse B., Ocular Oncology

How would you describe working in oncology to someone who has never experienced it?

Oncology is a scary field — the tumors are rare, often aggressive, and it can be very hard to predict how they will respond to therapy. The patients are all scared of the diagnosis of cancer which makes the work environment really serious. But there is also a lot of faith, trust in me, and hope. There are also a lot of different kinds of treatments – it can be confusing for patients and families to navigate this as well which another thing I love about onc. I enjoy being able to walk my patients through tough decisions and stand by them every step of the way.

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to treat adults and children. The other really cool thing about ocular oncology is that tumors occur in all parts of the eye which means I am able to operate on the front of the eye, back of the eye, and inside the eye. I love having this skillset and expertise so that patients from around the country come to see me.

What inspires you at work?

Just as giving a diagnosis of cancer is rough, telling someone they are CURED of cancer is AMAZING! I love to celebrate every milestone cancer free with my patients.

What is a common misconception of oncology?

That all the patients we treat have cancer! In fact many of my patients have tumors that are completely benign (not cancer) or high risk ‘lesions’ which are at risk of becoming cancer but are not yet cancer so only need to be followed closely. Patients are referred to me all the time with a diagnosis of cancer and I get to tell them that they’re fine — this is a fun and relaxing part of my job!

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Name: Megan A., Oncology RN

What do you love about your job?

There is so much that I love about my job! When I was working on a medical oncology floor, I loved that I was able to be one of the first nurses to administer treatment to patients. Typically, first-time doses or high doses of chemotherapy are administered as an inpatient. There is a very special connection that occurs as you are explaining to patient’s their treatment and being able to go alongside them during administration. Just the “C” word alone is frightening, but try explaining to them how chemotherapy works. It can be a little frightening to hear that it is going to change your DNA’s makeup. Now that I have moved to the outpatient infusion center, I love that I am able to develop tighter connections with my patients. Cancer takes no holidays and neither do we, so it is something very special to spend regular days and holidays with them.

What would your advice be to a new oncology nurse?

My advice to a new oncology nurse would be to have a strong core system. Not all days are going to be flowers and sunshine and not all days are going to be rain and gloomy. Make sure you have a great family, friends, or significant other who you confide in and know how to be there to support you. Additionally, practice self-care and take care of yourself. It does not have to be something fancy, just make sure to keep doing things that you love and fill your cup because the job can be emotionally draining.

What is a common misconception of oncology?

I think one of the biggest misconceptions of oncology is that my job is depressing and sad. In fact, it is the opposite. I am more excited to wake up in the morning and go to work than I could ever imagine. Never will you be in a place that is more filled with hope than despair.

Hear more from our Everyday Superheroes here and here.

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