I currently (and only for one more day) work for a hematology and oncology doctors’ office, and I only get one question when I tell people about my job: How do you do it?
It’s hard. I build such close relationships with my patients, especially the ones that come in several times a week for treatment. They brighten my days, even when they’re grumpy and tired and losing weight and giving up. Most, if not all of my patients come in with a huge smile on their faces. They ask me how I’m doing while they’re not doing so great themselves.
And when I can give something, be it care or a laugh or a hug or hope, this job becomes really rewarding. I know that what I’ve done for each and every patient that comes through here has left an impact on them. I know they go home and they think about me and the nurses and the doctors. I know that I’ve done something to better their lives, and what they have left of them. Maybe it’s selfish to think that way, but I think it’s really true.
My office becomes a second home for a lot of my patients. They spend more time here than they do at home–at least, I know that it feels like that to them. So for me to provide such a loving and caring atmosphere for my patients to heal in, or in some cases, die in, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
Tomorrow is my last day and through this entire week, I’ve been receiving hugs from my closest and favorite patients. They’re wishing me luck in wherever I go; they’re complaining about me leaving; they’re begging me to stay; and I can’t. I can’t stay. I want to, I want to be here for them, but I’m not allowed to. And that makes me really sad because I don’t know if the kind of care I’m giving them will continue to be given by my successor. And that’s so fucking hard to accept.
I wish I could record every interaction I’ve had with my patients and coworkers. I mean, just tonight, I went over to the hospital to visit one of my patients who’s going on hospice. He is literally dying and on his death bed, he talked my ear off and told his daughter and granddaughter about me and how because of me and my smiles, going in for treatment wasn’t so bad. I want to package him up and give him to my boss, a “Keep-Rhia-O-Gram”.
I’ve never loved a job so much. I’ve never loved a branch of medicine so much. I really want to continue in oncology. I don’t ever want to work in another specialty ever again.