I started a new job at Primary Children's Medical Center a couple weeks ago. I wanted this job so bad that I didn't even tell anyone I applied or interviewed until after I got hired because I didn't want to jinx it. For anyone who knows me, you know I've always wanted to work with kids and working at Primary's has always been one of my goals. And for those of you who know me best, you understand why the Immunocompromised Unit is a good fit for me. This is something I've always wanted to do. I don't know how well I would handle it when I have kids of my own so I think now is the perfect time for it.
This is how most conversations about my job go:
Someone asks where I work
Me: Primary Children's Hospital
Them: Oh how fun! Do you love it? What do you do there?
Me: LOVE it. I'm a tech on the Immunocompromised Unit.
Them: What's that?
Me: I work with the cancer kids.
Them: (expression changes from a smile to disturbed) Ooohhh, doesn't that suck? Isn't that really sad? I couldn't do that.
I understand people not getting it. And I know people think it's weird that I've always wanted to be involved with Pediatric Oncology. I know it will be hard sometimes and I'm sure I'll have some bad days, but my motivation to work in that particular field has always been the amazing spirit of that type of kids. I've worked with adult patients for the past 5 years and I have heard them complain about EVERYTHING. And now I work with these awesome little kids who go through hell and can still smile about it. They're fun and cute and happy (most of the time) and I'm blown away by their attitudes.
My first experience with one of these kids was when I was 10. We had just moved into our house in Tremonton and our little 5 year old neighbor across the street had leukemia. Looking back, I don't think I realized what that meant, I just knew she was sick. But she was an amazing little girl and I loved her. I felt like she was my little sister. She was the happiest little girl. I remember hearing her talk about her "line", watching her take meds, that there would be times when she wasn't allowed to go outside, but I never realized how sick she was. My mom and I took Christmas cookies to her family on Christmas Eve and her mom told us she was sick again and it wouldn't be a good night to see her. She died a couple days later. I won't go into the details of the effect that experience had on me, I'll just say that it sparked the interest in what I'm doing now and I'm so glad I'm finally doing it. If everyone was lucky enough to spend time with someone like her or the kids I get to hang out with everyday, no one would ever question why I want to do this.
I made a list of things I want to remember when I have a hard day there, which I know will have to happen every now and then.
May I always remember:
Every patient is someone's child, sibling, friend.
Who I'm working for and why that's important.
I know the amazing spirit inside each of those kids even on the days it's hard to see.
I'm a link to the outside world when they can't be there and a smile is important.
I worked hard to get here, it's important to me, and the experiences that made me want it.
To have empathy for the kids and their families.
How overwhelmed and terrified I was the first few days, and how much scarier it must be to be on the other side.
How it feels to be the student when I'm so used to being the teacher.
This is my job and I see these things every day, but for the families this is scary territory and their world is turned upside down.
And may I never become desensitized to pain, sickness, or death.
I'm happy about this job and I love it so far. Wish me luck.