Once the news of the diagnosis settles, each and every cancer patient needs to plan and prepare for the future. It’s up to educated and skilled medical staff to provide you with advice and guidance on how you need to proceed, and what steps you should take to boost your chances of survival as well as your quality of life. Whether you need to improve your nutrition to help your treatment go more smoothly, or you should take part in specific exercises so be more resilient, there are different options at your disposal.
However, specialized nurses that provide care to cancer patients are a big part of this picture. They help with everyday care, psychological and physical assistance, and long-term guidance. Nurses keep an eye on their patients and can adapt their care depending on their specific needs. To understand exactly what roles oncology nurses play when it comes to providing care for cancer patients, here is a breakdown of what they do and just how they make your life easier and more manageable while you’re fighting cancer.
Ongoing patient education
Every patient is unique, and oncology nurses know that it’s vital to teach each patient to take better care of themselves and to enhance their immune system as they deal with cancer. Nurses will set the stage for proper self-care for each patient, help them understand their limitations as well as the necessary precautions they need to take.
They will educate the patient about the disease itself, its repercussions, as well as the most effective options at their disposal. They’ll keep their morale up, but they will do so in a controlled way, so that the patient has a strong structure and a basis to implement self-care.
Providing palliative and emergency care
Especially in difficult and more advanced cancer stages, patients need ongoing monitoring, palliative care, and potentially even life-saving resources at their disposal. Both in a hospital setting and during home care, oncology nurses need to know how to administer proper CRP techniques in case of an emergency.
For that very reason, nurses can use Advanced Medical Certification or similar platforms to further educate themselves about CPR methods and proper emergency care. This is essential for cancer patients, as it can help save their lives. Also, these courses help nurses master cutting-edge techniques in their own time and regularly update their knowledge and skills.
Managing symptoms and side-effects
Like so many other illnesses, different types of cancer will lead to a wide spectrum of changes in your body and mind, and you will exhibit a range of different symptoms. Then there are the therapy and treatment side-effects, making it all the more complex to manage, which is why oncology nurses are so essential.
Nurses help you with everything from nausea to fatigue, striving to elevate your quality of life as you tackle cancer. They know how to adapt the dosage to your condition and to spot the subtlest changes in your ability and behavior that will dictate their approach.
Emotional support and assistance
Cancer patients often feel like a burden on their families and getting professional help from nurses is one of the most effective ways for them to feel more at ease and to manage their illness better. While they might not be trained psychologists, they certainly know the toll cancer takes on each patient – after all, it’s their career choice and their calling to take care of those struggling with this illness.
That is why oncology nurses will often be there for their patients for more than just administering treatment and monitoring symptoms. They’ll be nurturing and they’ll help you manage your emotions and the journey ahead.
Monitoring and strategizing for the road ahead
Since nurses spend so much time watching their patients and providing therapy of various kinds, their input, observations, and their expertise are vital in the future of cancer care and research. In much the same way, their participation in every patient’s life helps them work side by side with the oncologist in charge to chart the road ahead and find the best, most effective solutions for the patient. From handling pain, managing other symptoms, all the way to increasing the patient’s emotional wellbeing, oncology nurses are vital in helping define the plan for the future.
Nurses will keep an eye on how your body is responding to treatment and how you are handling the process emotionally. They will keep detailed records if they take care of you at your home and not just at the hospital, all to help you and the doctor create a smarter, better-informed strategy to defeat cancer.
Oncology nurses are essential in the treatment and recovery of cancer patients, since they’ll typically spend more time with you than the rest of the medical staff you’ll encounter during this time of your life. Considering the amount of stress this position entails, oncology nurses are incredibly caring and resilient, and their role in taking care of cancer patients is invaluable. If you are dealing with this unfortunate diagnosis, having an oncology nurse by your side will help you in many different ways and give you the peace of mind you need to focus all of your energy on recovery and treatment.
Peter Minkoff is a health and science student and writer at Iris magazine.