They arrived at their profession – and to Dana-Farber – on different paths, but nurses Jade Callender, RN, BSN; Jane Goldie, RN; Kaitlen Reyes, DNP, FNP; and Courtney Shea, RN, BSN, share a passion for oncology nursing. In honor of National Nurses Week May 6-12, the four share what they enjoy most about their roles.
Reyes was a pre-med student at Boston College when a cousin visiting from California developed an acute episode of appendicitis.
“Because I was here, I took on the role as his guardian, getting him to Boston Children’s Hospital,” recalls Reyes. “The experiences I had with the nurses there made me realize that the way they made him so comfortable while reassuring his parents back home was what I wanted to do.”
Now, while providing multiple myeloma patients with the same confident care her cousin received, she also forms close ties with her colleagues.
“The people on my care team are like a family,” Reyes says. “It’s not just the doctors and nurses; when patients are on clinical trials, you work with the bench scientists and combine scientific inquiry with patient care. You really feel on the cutting-edge.”
Goldie has worked in oncology for 30 years, and says that when her unit became Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care in Weymouth, Mass., in 2014, she couldn’t believe her good fortune.
“Joining Dana-Farber was my dream,” says Goldie, a nurse manager who oversees five nurses and an infusion room. “Being a part of this incredible vibe, where everything is geared to patients, is wonderful. You can feel it walking the hallways.”
For Shea, joining the Jimmy Fund Clinic last summer after 17 years working in pediatric oncology in Oakland, California, provided an opportunity to come home and continue in the profession she loved.
“Growing up in Medford, I did a lot of theater, so pediatrics is a great fit for me,” says Shea. “I’m known as the singing and dancing nurse, and love to make kids laugh.”
Helping patient families navigate treatment is also appealing to Shea.
“Sometimes you are meeting families on the worst day of their lives, and you can say to them, ‘We are right here with you, and you can get through this,’” she says. “As nurses we try to work as a team to help each other so we can best help our patients.”
Callender can relate. As a child in Mattapan, she suffered from asthma that required long stays at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center). She never forgot the nurses she met there.
“Aside from my mother, the people who took care of me were my heroes,” says Callender, an infusion nurse for several disease centers in the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care at Dana-Farber. “I wanted to be like them, and when I did a clinical rotation at Dana-Farber while in nursing school, the nurses here personified those people I met as a kid.”
Now, after more than a decade here, Callender sees patients reach significant milestones beyond their cancer treatment.
“One of my favorite things is when people go through treatment, go into remission, and then come back years later and say, ‘I’d like you to meet my daughter’ or ‘This is my grandson,’” says Callender. “We always strive to have a smile on our faces, but that’s when it is the easiest.”