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PETERS: Nurses give far more than just medical care

On National Nurses Week, it’s time to think back to the nurses who have cared for us
A health care worker is seen outside the Emergency dept. of the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver on March 30, 2020. he B.C. government says temporary pandemic pay that was promised to essential workers in mid-May should be coming in October. The stipend was promised to hundreds of thousands of essential workers for work done between March and July and some workers say they’re frustrated it still hasn’t arrived. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

At the absolutely saddest and most scared moment of my adult life, a nurse was by my side.

She held my right hand in both of her hands whenever she could. She stood beside my hospital bed so she was as close to my face as possible. She read my body language, reacted, and kept her composure all while the on-call gynecologist at Chilliwack General Hospital gave me the news I had cancer.

She did this all while assisting the doctor and it was all just a matter of minutes, but the impact of her compassion lasted with me throughout my treatment.

And then she wrote a note to my family, on a doctor’s prescription pad.

“To whom it may concern: Dr. orders, mom needs extra special attention and love on Mother’s Day. Please comply!”

A note from a nurse, unsigned, to my family in May of 2018. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)
A note from a nurse, unsigned, to my family in May of 2018. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

It’s not the best way to spend Mother’s Day, but she improved it.

The memory came across my Facebook timeline this morning, and it reminded me of all the TLC I’ve received at the hands of nurses over my life. This event was four years ago, and so the following months were filled with caring nurses at the BC Cancer clinic in Abbotsford. The chemo ward nurses are top-notch, and the brachytherapy nurses are literal lifesavers.

I still carry a token with me that one nurse gave me when I finished treatment, and think of her often.

It’s just nearing the end of National Nurses Week throughout Canada, and I’m just one person. Mind you, I’ve had a lot of interaction with medical professionals due to having had cancer. But that’s actually not that uncommon. Most of us will have some sort of health issue in life that puts us at the mercy of others.

Whether it’s cancer, or a difficult pregnancy, a chronic illness, a serious injury, or end-of-life care, our lives will eventually intersect with a nurse on duty.

The note in my timeline today reminds me that nurses do care about us when they send us back home. They may wonder about us, whether it’s from time to time or a passing thought on their next shift.

They have these intense but quick moments with us, in our most vulnerable moments in life. And then they send us off into the world again.

I don’t know the nurse’s name who wrote that note. She signed it, “Mother’s Day.”

But if she is reading this, and if any of my past nurses are reading this, I assure you my family gave me the sweetest care I could hope for.

I hope you are all getting the same love and care.

READ MORE: “Mortal’ B.C. nurses rally at legislature, call for better working conditions


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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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