Blog - A Day in the Life of A Children's Cancer Nurse

On Thursday 28 - Saturday 30 July, our age 17-19 Youth Theatre are performing Spoonface Steinberg, a poetic exploration into the world of a young person diagnosed with autism and cancer. We asked children's cancer nurse Lucy Thompson to describe a day in her life to us. Here's what she said.

A day in the life of a children's nurse...

How can I describe to you, what I find hard to describe to me?

My vocabulary fails me as I try to find the words.

But I will do my best to explain the joy, the sorrow and the pain of what I see and what it is like in the day of me.

As I'm thinking I'm failing at the first step.

How can I describe to you through my eyes, when I'm in a room with two parents and their child's diagnosis is cancer?

Both parents are looking at you, all they want is one answer to the first question that leaves their lips - "will they die?"

This question is whispered in fear, with eyes open wide - shock has filled the room.

Most of the time the consultant can kindly reply and tell them that there is a cure and a treatment plan.

But other times the silence before the reply speaks loud to the heart.

"The cancer is advanced."

"We will do every thing we can."

Your heart feels those words deep, as you see true heartbreak before you.

What can you say?

Words cannot make this right.

Your only offering is a box of tissues, a shoulder to cry on and to let the silence remain.

You take the family back to their room, where they look at their child and can't believe it could be true and they hold them tight.

You know that family won't be sleeping tonight.

That is one moment of my day.

Others are filled with intravenous antibiotics and lots of them, bloods, chemotherapy, wee, vomit, drips, dressings and then some more medicines for the side effects of the other medicine. Throughout these moments in time - with your gloves and apron on and a tray full of drugs - you go to and from patient's bedsides having conversations, telling jokes or some times knowing when it's best to say nothing at all.

In this world on the ward, times goes so very quickly...

You can't believe where the day has gone, but then you glance at the family who have been told that the cancer has come back for the third time and you know that time for them has completely stopped.

As a nurse you see time stop and start all the time, from someone getting better and walking off the ward, and then it stops as someone draws their last breath.

You go through hard times and good times, like when life begins again as they ring the 'end of treatment bell' - it's over!

Basically what I'm trying to say is that as a nurse you see people struggle, you see people recovering and see people doing their best.

But what you feel...

You feel the biggest overwhelming feeling of love and what you want is for that child, that teenager, that young person, you want them to be ok, to get through this and you let them know that you'll be there every step of the way.

Lucy Thompson, Children's Cancer Nurse

Find out more about Spoonface Steinberg, and book tickets here