the patient who died today was not just any patient. less than two weeks ago, this patient was married to the love of her life at my favorite cancer hospital. it wasn't part of her life plan to get married at the hospital but when life tosses you the stage 4 incurable cancer card, that wedding becomes your one wish before you die.
for a few hours, she was not a cancer patient, but a bride. the wedding was perfect. it will always be my favorite, even though it will never be on the Southern Weddings blog and the pictures will never do it justice. the emotion in the room was overwhelming. family and friends filled the room. cameras were clicking and tears were streaming. she didn't let the oxygen and iv poles get in the way of their first dance.
cancer sucks. lung cancer that keeps spreading and takes over your body is terrible. you have to fight to breathe. anything you try to do makes you tired. you are always tired and struggling to get enough air in your lungs. and so while i am overwhelmed with sadness for her loved ones, i am so thankful that she is not suffering anymore. she loved and was so loved.
working at the cancer hospital can be so hard. i complain about having hard patients, about having to stay late to finish charting, about how my back hurts for rolling and lifting patients, about having to wipe so many bottoms and empty so many drains. but i signed up for this. i wanted this. i went to school to learn how to do this. my patients did not ask for this. they didn't ask for this disease. they didn't ask for their lives to be turned upside down. and so i'm learning that the hardest part of this work centers on turning my complaining into thankfulness and my guiltiness of not having cancer towards working harder, reaching deeper and loving more.
i didn't learn how to deal with death in nursing school. but the school of life sure is teaching me now.