Paediatric Oncology Nursing.


The ward I work on is predominantly a children’s medical/ isolation ward but the majority of our patients these days are oncology patients that require isolation for one reason or another. So, it got me thinking about what it is that I like about nursing children with cancer?


Seems almost wrong to enjoy looking after children and their families who are dealing with the most terrible diseases, having treatment that makes them so so sick and often seeing them pass away. That said, the number who pass away gets less and less with all the advancements in treatment so thankfully there is still more good than bad in paediatric oncology.

So, what is it I enjoy?

Well, I really enjoy the continuity of care that we get by looking after long term patients, seeing them come from diagnosis right through until the end of treatment. I like that the families get to know us as much as we get to know them . I think it helps them to know that we know their children and it helps the kids because they know us.

The children being treated go through so much, lumbar punctures, chemo, blood and platelet transfusions, blood tests, nausea, vomiting , yet they on the whole tolerate these things with so much strength and they always try to smile whenever they can. The parents work out ways to explain the procedures, they might collect bravery beads, we might make sticker charts but every day we see these children they are just doing what needs to be done to get through.


I love the warm fuzzy feeling you get from knowing that in some small way you may have made a difference in the life of a child and their family. Holding a hand, letting a parent cry on your shoulder, laughing about something silly at a time when life seems hopeless, being honest when you say “it will hurt a bit”, listening when someone needs you to even if you don’t really have the time.


All these things add up and they mean as much to me as I hope they do to the children I care for.

Image credit: monkeyc, union of youth.

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  1. I’ll keep my mixed bag of PICU over Paed oncology any day. I find oncology the most confronting area of my job. The majority of my work is cardiac defect repairs which almost always end well. I do sometimes have to care for oncology patients and it is a mammoth job to care for those patients given how likely their risk of death is. Cardiac kids who die usually slip away quickly but oncology kids seem to have a more protracted death. It is so unfair.

    I know I could not work there full-time. It takes someone with something extra special to work there. I have much respect for the RNs who work there. Although I see more death than most other wards oncology is too hard an area for me to cope as an RN and a fellow human being. I know I do not have the right stuff when it comes to that. I take my hat off paed oncology nurses.

  2. ” It takes someone with something extra special to work there” well said Foxylass. Thanks for sharing your story Nik.
    During my long hospital stays it is those nurses that truly care about their patients that make the difference between a bearable stay and a dreadful one! 🙂

  3. I think people need to think LONG and hard before taking on this specialty. If can certainly make you focus on the big questions in life a bit more than would usually be ideal. Bless the hands/minds/ spirits of those capable if this demanding job.


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