How would you describe being an oncology nurse? —Name withheld on request

Oncology nursing is the most rewarding specialty field of nursing. Although it is physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, it enables you to truly practice, teach, and mentor holistic care. From health promotion, to symptom management, to end of life care, we are able to make a difference not only in patient’s lives, but their families. I can never imagine working in something other than oncology, and I’m proud to be part of this amazing profession. —Leah A. Scaramuzzo, MSN, RN-BC, AOCN

When describing how I view being an Oncology Nurse, one word comes to my mind, and that is humble. The path of disease that we cross within the discipline of oncology—cancer—is disruptive, and intrusive, and shows up in the midst of everyday life. I have had the privilege to take care of some of the most wonderful people whose lives have been disrupted by cancer. As they journey towards survivorship, I am humbled by their strength, courage and perseverance in life. The opportunity to serve these men and women is a privilege and honor, it gives me the opportunity to encourage them on their journey of hope and survivorship, and celebrate the gift of life. Either through touch, supportive care, or just being there, all that I do makes a difference from the greatest to the least. —Jiajoyce R. Conway, DNP, CRNP, AOCNP

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Oncology nursing is a dynamic career full of incredible learning experiences in an ever evolving-field; one that allows me to use the full breadth of my nursing knowledge, from clinical skills to therapeutic communication to research and teaching.

But so much more than that, caring for patients with serious life-limiting illness has taught me what is truly important in my own life, how to focus on the here and now, and how to be thankful for every day. And that’s a lesson I don’t mind relearning.  —Susanne Menon, NP, OCN, ACHPN 

Nursing in general is a nurturing and caring profession. But Oncology Nursing is so much more—yes, I capitalized the O and N intentionally! Working in cancer care has given me opportunities to share and learn from patients and families like never before. The bonding that can take place in caring for loved ones is unlike anything else I have seen, except for the wonderment of a new mother’s eyes when she sees her child for the first time.

Frustrating and aggravating it can be, but I don’t know many nurses who choose this field of care—and it is a choice, especially if you stay in it for any length of time—who think to do anything else. Challenging but rewarding. Never boring. —Rosemarie A. Tucci, RN, MSN, AOCN  

As an oncology nurse, I treasure that we are able to use our past experiences with many patients/families in order to help the newly diagnosed and their families through a very difficult and new situation to them. Plus, our clinical expertise (on chemo, diagnostic tests, genetics, etc.) is often used to educate, as well as alleviate physical and psychosocial side effects of cancer treatment.

On the flip side, I enjoy working with a lot of smart people (oncologists, radiologists, physical therapists, social workers, fellow nurses) that all are dedicated to the fight against cancer. Our collective goal is really quality of life for our patients/families.

Finally, when networking with oncology nurses from all over (at conferences in particular), it’s great to connect with people that are passionate about quality cancer care, often sharing very similar stories of the ups and downs of onc nursing. —Frank dela Rama, RN, MS, AOCNS  

The editors and readers of Oncology Nurse Advisor want to know how you describe being an oncology nurse. Send us your perspective (in 150 words or less) to [email protected] and we will add your thoughts to those of our distinguished editorial board members.