Our son, Jared, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma two weeks before his 12th birthday. On that birthday, he was too sick to know that the nurses had brought him a birthday cake and sang to him. Early on April 27, for the first time, Jared was hooked up to the red “Kool-Aid” that caused him to be one of the sickest kids at the children's hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
I was a wreck. Standing at his bedside, holding him so he could throw up, the reality began to creep into my heart that this would be our new normal: life with a kid battling cancer. Tears streamed down my face as I looked at the nurse who was helping me hold Jared's arms and head. “I'm sorry. I'm trying not to lose it. I'm usually a strong person,” I murmured. The nurse replied, “I can see that you’re strong. It's only natural.”
Another hard day, Estelle led me to the couch in the room and put her arm around me. “Kristi, you're going to be okay. I've been doing pediatric oncology for 42 years, and I can tell you are going to be just fine. You are a strong momma. I can see it in you. I know you’ll get through this.”
Estelle’s words became a source of light. It was as though God reached down through Estelle's experience to say, “You can do this. I am with you. You are not alone.” This glow provided me with confidence to support Jared on this journey
Amy was our nurse-navigator. What an appropriate title! It was as if she had a penlight that she was pointing on the path, illuminating our way through the dark. Amy brought us a sense of hope and understanding in addition to cancer education. God ministered to me through Amy in ways that were so deeply life-changing. I praised God for her, thanking him for the light she provided as we began to feel less fearful.
Darkness causes fear, and the smallest light can change our perspective. When sitting in darkness and a candle is lit, all eyes focus on that light. Karmen shone such a light. She was almost finished with nursing school, completing her senior clinical rotation on our unit and then beginning work as a pediatric oncology nurse with our hospital.
Karmen brought light and joy to the room each time she entered. When I think of Karmen, I think of Luke 8:16: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (ESV).
After a 4-year battle, Jared took up residence in heaven. Another nurse came the day Jared died. God allowed us the privacy we needed through this unknown nurse. She sat quietly in the corner, allowing us to sit and hold our son as he passed into Glory. She sweetly witnessed without intrusion.
Although we miss Jared terribly, we recall those four years with gratitude. God blessed our journey. As beacons of light, nurses provided help and healing. Each one cared for our whole family with grace and compassion.
Kristi Mitchell is an administrative assistant for the School of Nursing at Colorado Christian University. Her complete article on how nurses ministered to her family as beacons of light is in current issue of the Journal of Christian Nursing.
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