By Maggie Loucks, NP-C
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28, during my last semester of graduate school, I remember thinking that this had to mean something. I needed to turn an unfortunate situation into something positive, so I decided to pursue oncology nursing where I felt I could make a difference.
After completing my treatment, I was fortunate to find an opening in Dana-Farber’s Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, which ironically, is on the same floor where I was treated. In addition, I had worked as a research coordinator in the same center as an undergraduate, and hoped to return one day.
Caring for patients in the same place where I was once a patient brings me strength and inspiration, and gives me a special reason to come to work each day. I am honored to be part of the sarcoma team, and I find working with the clinical trial patients particularly rewarding.
As a new nurse practitioner at Dana-Farber, I had phenomenal mentors who have guided me and helped ease me in to my new role. Kathy Polson, APRN, generously shared her knowledge and experience, and has become a great friend as well. I‘ve watched the remarkable impact she has on her patients and their families through her thorough and compassionate approach.
During my training, many other nurse practitioners have stepped in to teach me about other treatment centers at Dana-Farber. This broad-based method has given me perspective on other areas of patient care, and has helped me grow as a practitioner.
I recently had the opportunity to care for a young, terminally ill patient, and I put the skills I learned from Kathy into action. I had open conversations with the patient and his family, and slowly took them through each stage of the end-of-life process, making sure our discussions were comprehensive and compassionate, just as Kathy had taught me. Sometimes the simple act of holding his hand made words unnecessary and, as sad as it was, I was able to help my patient reach a peaceful passing with dignity.
I feel blessed to be part of the Dana-Farber team. It seems like we are all in this together — our family taking care of your family.