Nurses Rule! Doctors, please don’t be upset, you have a huge role to play, but Nurses Rule!!
I feel confident to make this statement because of my personal experiences with Nurses on the JBFSU. Our nurses wear many hats and more often than not, go way beyond the call of duty. There are different types of nurses, Registered Nurses (RN), Nursing Assistants (NA) and Patient Care Assistants (PCA), but they all have to be born with a special heart of gold to love and care for children with critical illnesses. It’s not easy to hear a child crying out for pain meds and pleading, “Nursie, help me please," but the pain meds are not due for another hour. Their dedication allows them to be there, helping in whatever way they can to make the situation easier for both parent and patient as the time passes slowly. The reality of going home after a shift and getting a call that one of your babies did not make it must be difficult to deal with.
All of our nurses have a vested interest in the lives of the families who reside on the JBF ward. They have forged long-lasting friendships with those for whom they provide care. They join in when we have birthday or end-of-chemotherapy “ring the bell” celebrations. Our nurses are also present at funerals to lend support to the very end. Their commitment is way beyond admission to discharge.
Today “JBF Talks” to RN Stoute -Virgil, one of our very first Haematology/Oncology trained nurses.
Nursie, why did you chose Nursing as a Profession?
"I know it may sound like a cliché, but nursing has always been my passion and calling from an early age. I remember caring for my grandfather (now deceased) who was part of the Health Care fraternity as a Pharmacist. My love for the elderly lead me to the completion of levels one and two of two Geriatric programs. This convinced me that nursing was going to be my choice of profession. On August 27th2018 I celebrated eleven years of nursing."
What is it like working on JBFSU?
"Working on the JBFSU has been a tremendous blessing for me in more ways than one. People often ask how I do it or how can I work with children with cancer? My answer is simple, I love what I do! Caring for my patients has humbled me. I feel that my only option is to be strong for them. These children exhibit tremendous strength, resilience and tenacity throughout their course of treatment and recovery. The bond I have with my patients and parents is very dear to me. I see them at their lowest point and at their greatest triumph. I must say my secret to caring for them has always been God. You can’t be a nurse working and caring for these children and not be affected by poor prognosis or death . So I’ve learnt to rely on my Heavenly Father for strength and courage to nurse my patients to the best of my ability.
From the first day I met Aunty Chevaughn and Uncle Noel, our personalities meshed. I am not sure if it was their warm smiles or pleasant mannerism, but I knew it was the start of a beautiful friendship. I always admired how they have used such a horrific experience and turned it into something amazing. The JBFSU is the leading Paediatric Oncology Unit in the Caribbean, and I feel extremely proud to be working here."
Tell us about your training in Paediatric Haematology/Oncology?
On September 1st, 2017 I graduated from the University of The West Indies (UWI) with a distinction in Post Registration Diploma Paediatric Haematology/Oncology. It was an honor to be one of ten nurses from Trinidad and Tobago along with eighteen nurses from six other Caribbean countries, to be granted a full scholarship from UWI in collaboration with the SickKids Caribbean Initiative (SCI). My success and achievement in Paediatric Haematology/Oncology has been one of my greatest accomplishments in my nursing career. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my dear husband and son. The knowledge I attained during my training has better equipped me to manage and nurse the paediatric oncology population. As a trained paediatric oncology nurse, I can now teach and counsel patients and parents about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management of the most common cancers affecting children.
We have adopted the family-centered nursing approach where patients and family members can take part in their own plan of care. I nurse not just a patient but a family and community to an extent.
Just a few years ago, there were no paediatric haematology/oncology nurses in Trinidad and Tobago. So we know we are heading in the right direction in this area of health care. Nurse Stoute-Virgil along with her colleagues, are effecting change in the manner in which children with cancer and their families are cared for, and this is only the beginning. So as far as the future goes there is HOPE (Have Only Positive Expectations).
What advice would you give to parents who are going through this crisis?
"My advice to parents caring for a child newly diagnosed with cancer is simply to put God first. This experience can draw on every resource you have, financial, emotional, physical and spiritual. Being grounded in your faith is one of the most important facets in making your journey and experience less traumatic. Having a great support system, including family, friends and loved ones can also assist in a smooth transition through treatment and reintegration."
So when next you read quotes about Nurses such as “When you are a Nurse you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours” or “Nurses are workers of heart” think about the hand-picked, God-sent, truly dedicated Nurses on the JBFSU.
Submitted by: Chevaughn Joseph
The Just Because Foundation is a non-profit pediatric cancer support organization in Trinidad & Tobago established by Noel and Chevaughn Joseph who lost their 5-and-a-half-year-old son Jabez “JB” Joseph to Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, after a two-year battle. They provide emotional, practical and social support for families of children with cancer at absolutely no cost. If you're seeking advice or words of encouragement to these courageous children, please reach out to the Just Because Foundation.
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