Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.
My name is Dolores Danos. My nickname is Doe. I always introduce myself as Doe, “DOE A DEAR” It helps the patient remember my name and I try to live up to that nickname. I live in Raceland, Louisiana. I am an LPN in an oncology clinic in Houma, La. I have worked here for 17 years. I consider myself a “cancer survivor supporter” I try being that extra support to all those who come through here.
I’ll never forget the day I walked into the cancer center to be interviewed for this job. It was Halloween Day 1999. At that time, I had never experienced cancer in any way. I walked into a very crowded waiting room. To my astonishment there were people with oxygen tanks connected to them, some with no hair, most pale, frail, and weak. There was even one man carrying a small garbage can in case he could not hold back the vomiting. Being unfamiliar with this disease I was very uncomfortable. I was nervous. I was so scared. The most memorable thing was the way they were all sharing in conversation, laughing, joking. Little did I realize I had just walked into my extended family.
I had my interview.
On the way home, I prayed for all those people I had seen at the center. I had a conversation with God at that point. I told God that I did not want this job. I tried to convince HIM that it just wasn’t for me. I did tell HIM that if that’s where HE wanted me, I would serve Him well. By the time I arrived at my house, the phone was ringing. Well, apparently, God had a plan and I was hired. Let it be known, this was the best thing that ever happened to me. I thank God every day for putting me here. I love what I do. On down days, everybody has them; He sends special messages from special angels that I am where I belong. Sometimes it’s a note from a family member just letting me know that my smile meant something to his Mom, or that phone call made her happy.
I learned very quickly that cancer does not discriminate. The patients come from all walks of life and each one begins an individual journey. I feel very honored to walk this journey with so many wonderful people. Being a nurse, of course, does not exempt me from the emotional part of the journey. Oncology nurses share in the joys and the sorrows. Just like family, it’s a complete package. I remember one young lady that decided to make the best of her hair loss. She started wearing a variety of colorful wigs. Sometimes they were purple, green, orange. She made people smile. Her colorful hair was also a great conversation starter. Lifetime friends are made here.
One gentleman came in right after purchasing a beautiful engagement ring for his girlfriend. I was honored to have the opportunity to share in the excitement of the ring and the future wedding plans. Of course, he had to make his wedding plans around his chemotherapy treatments. I learned all about courage from these patients. They displayed strength and courage daily.
They had no idea what they gave to me.
Last but surely not least; in 2008 a new breast cancer patient came to our clinic. She was a very strong young lady, although very nervous about her new diagnosis. I remember, she had so many questions. She shared those questions around the whole clinic. Her journey had begun, and a very tense journey it would be.
After surgeries, adjuvant chemotherapy, local radiation, oral medication, more surgeries and of course, follow up visits; she has basically dedicated herself to benefit the support of other cancer survivors. She does talks and benefits for survivors. She encourages hope, faith, courage. She unselfishly donates her profits to others who are on their journey.
I thank God for allowing me into the lives of these courageous people. Each one has taught me to appreciate life to the fullest.
COURAGE—Strength in the face of pain and grief.