COVID-19 is a huge strain on healthcare workers, many of whom become like family members during our cancer experience. They see and care for these families in the most vulnerable moments. Not only do they provide excellent medical care, but many take the extra step of making hospital days a little brighter, scary moments a little calmer and happy moments a little sweeter.
These workers have given so much support to cancer families, sometimes over many years – so we asked these families to show a little support to them in this moment.
Through our partnership with Momcology, we asked a group of cancer caregivers to tell us their best memory of a healthcare worker who went above and beyond for their family, and what they’d say to these caregivers today. Here are their thoughtful and heartwarming responses.
When something little feels so big
“One of our PICU nurses changed my son into a real outfit when he was two months old – it was the first time he had been in real clothes. It meant the world to us. A couple days later (when she came back from two days off) she had a bag full of baby clothes for my son. To this day, eight years later, any time we are inpatient she comes to visit us.” – Sue
“I remember a time when our son was in clinic for labs – he was four months old. My husband worked full-time nights and went to college during the day. The clinic staff appeared with a tray of food – I was confused, I hadn’t ordered food. She just smiled, winked and said, ‘I thought you could use some nourishment.’ I sobbed and she held me. Then I pulled myself together and ate every bit of food on that tray. It was just food, but she saw me and found a way to help. I will never forget her.” – Mindy
“We had a rough few weeks that were filled with emotion. One of our nurses scooped me up in the hallway, walked me to our room and melted to the floor with me. I will never forget that kindness.” – Cat
Heroic skill in a crisis
“Ollie had a bad reaction to his chemo and the whole team of nurses just jumped in and everyone knew where to go and what to do. It helped me to remain calm to see them in control of the situation. Their control and skill was so important during that stressful time.” – Sarah
“I can remember a few codes – watching them spring into action was like watching super heroes. It shook me every time and I’d cry no matter the outcome.” – Stephanie
“When Alex was first diagnosed, we had to go immediately to the ER because they found a tumor wrapped around his windpipe, a collapsed lung and fluid, and he was starting to go into respiratory failure. I was amazed how all the doctors and nurses, there was about ten of them, rushed into the room and were completely in sync, without saying a word and took amazing care of Alex. The nurses were so comforting and reassuring letting us know what was happening and what would happen next. I will never forget that moment and all that they did for our family in that first scary and chaotic time we entered cancer world.” – Julie
Part of the family
“One relationship that cannot go without mentioning was the bond between my son Danielle, diagnosed at 14 and a half and his psychologist, Dr. Bob. I don’t think they ever once talked directly about mental health, but everything was based around football. There were lots of laughs, arguments over sports and bets wagered. The two have created such a connection that they have spoken publicly on several occasions as to how important mental health is to treatment. I know two years into college that Daniel still calls Dr. Bob for advice on hard issues when he needs it. This man saved both our lives. He changed our experience. I have more memories than I can count but I don’t think there’s one that doesn’t include Dr. Bob. Gratitude about when I think of this man.” – Nadine
“The one that sticks out to me the most would be when Nico wanted to see Hamilton on Broadway. His oncologist who, at the time, had been promoted and wasn’t even seeing patients anymore except Nico, reached out to Lin Manuel Miranda and his father to get Nico to the show. He reached out on his own, spent lord knows how many hours emailing, calling and working on making this happen for him. Nico had 10th row, center stage seats and spent time with the cast just four months before he passed. This oncologist is one of the most truly remarkable human beings I’ve ever known. I am forever indebted to him.” – Stephanie
“There are so many wonderful people out there. The one that stands out the most in my daughter’s journey though is her orthopedic surgeon. She was with us from the very beginning and was as shocked as we were to find out Alyssa had cancer. She knit her hat, fixed holes in a couple stuffed animals, even sat and taught Alyssa how to sew a hole herself. She spent so much time with us and to this day we still talk with her often. She will text and ask if she can share our number with a newly diagnosed family or just check in.” – Michella
A message to healthcare workers in these times
We also asked these caregivers what they’d say to healthcare workers during these scary times. We so often take for granted the bravery of the nurses, doctors, aids and other staff who willingly put themselves in danger to keep our loved ones safe. Here are their messages to the care teams who helped them and to the healthcare workers on the front lines today.
“I want them to know we are worried about them too right now. Our care teams are part of our extended family and we are nervous about their health and well-being too. We know they are also managing their own families who are home, keeping a safe distance, and being so careful so that they can continue to care for ours. We are grateful.” – Kim
“I’m grateful for them once again putting our kids first. And for patiently addressing our concerns and answering our questions over and over again!” – Heather
“I’m so grateful for their knowledge woven with courage and compassion. I too want them to know we are holding them in our thoughts and am incredibly grateful for their passion to care for others as their own. I am worried for them as well – there is so much at stake.” – Mindy
“I want them to know that what they do matters, even years later. Years after our son passed, how they cared for him and all they did for us still lives in our heart and we are forever thankful.” – Stephanie
Momcology, in partnership with Children’s Cancer Research Fund, is working to create meaningful content that raises awareness about what families face while going through childhood cancer. By combining CCRF’s authentic storytelling capabilities with the many voices and experiences from within the Momcology network, we are eager to provide a new platform to amplify caregivers’ voices to the public to both accelerate research and raise awareness. Visit Momcology to learn more and join their community.
Your story of childhood cancer is powerful – it can raise awareness for what is needed in the world of childhood cancer research and even encouraging fundraising for vital research projects. See how your story can make an impact by filling out our Share Your Story form.