Kidney Cancer Canada Nursing Excellence Award in honour of Tony Clark

By Nesan Bandali

When I was asked to write a few words about my experience as an oncology nurse, it took me a while to go back through my life to pinpoint the time that I decided I wanted to be a nurse.

For as long as I could remember I had wanted to be a nurse. I talked about it to everyone who asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated. Then when I was in high school I remember my father gathering our family together to take us to his doctor’s appointments.

As we were sitting there at our doctor’s office, we were told he had metastatic Prostate Cancer. There started our journey of treatment and hospital stays. He had his surgery and then started his month-long radiation treatment at Sunnybrook Hospital. Since I was the only one who drove, I would get up early in the morning to take him to his treatment and then take him to work for the day. He made sure the treatments were early morning in order for me not to miss school and for him to get to work every day as he was determined to continue working. To tell you the truth I don’t know how we all got through it all. Over the years we had many ups and downs with his treatment and we dealt with whatever came our way. We got used to this new normal. We were so lucky to have some amazing nurses in the years that he was being treated. Unfortunately, at my first year of nursing he passed away. He had been so proud that I had decided on this career path and I was determined to go on.

I completed my nursing degree and then turned my eye onto Oncology nursing. I started my career in pediatric oncology and was at The Hospital for Sick Children as a front-line nurse for many years and then after 10 years decided to move into clinical trials at the Odette Cancer Centre within Kidney/Prostate/Bladder group. I came full circle. The hospital who took care of my dad is the same hospital that I now work in.

In this position, my biggest reward has been teaching patients about their clinical trials and what is offered to them in their treatment journey. When patients are first approached for a clinical trial they can be quite stressed and overwhelmed. To be able to go through all the treatment options, side effects and then the mechanisms action thoroughly and then to see the understanding in their eyes when they finally get that not only may they benefit from the treatment but will then be part of the future treatments for other patients is remarkable. At the time I first started at the Odette there were few treatment options that were being offered in this area. With the number of trials that I have been part of, it has been amazing to see how much more we can give to our patients. To be able to appreciate the time that is gained for our patients by treatments through clinical trials has been so very satisfying. The clinical trials of today will become the standard of care of tomorrow and that is so wonderful to be able to be part of. Oncology nurses touch a part of our patients lives that is so unique and irreplaceable. I have been truly blessed to give back to a profession that was there for our family when we needed them the most.

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