By Lauren McGrath
Lauren is an oncology nurse practitioner at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health. Lauren currently works with hospitalized patients with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy, or facing complications from their disease. She also works with patients undergoing bone marrow transplants for various types of leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. This is a specialized unit where patients are given life-saving therapy with the goal of cure for these blood cancers. During this time, patients can become quite ill and require a significant amount of support and TLC, and are often in the hospital anywhere from two-six weeks. She enjoys the opportunity to get to know her patients and their families closely during this time.
Lauren was recently nominated to run for Woman of the Year 2018 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). From now until June 16th, she will be leading her team in a fundraising competition, raising money to reach a goal of $75,000.
I am a proud alumna and employee at Jefferson, where I’ve been an oncology nurse practitioner at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center for the last four years. I have the opportunity on a daily basis to take care of some of the most incredibly strong patients, who come from near and far to seek treatment for their cancer. I find my work to be not only a calling, but also a duty to help those during one of the greatest hardships of their lives.
When I walk into a patient’s room, I take a step into their lives. Each and every time this may look and feel different, but the goal remains the same: to be there, and to be present – to take into account their very individual and unique circumstance.
As much as my simple presence may be a comfort to my patients, I am constantly humbled by their strength, struggle, and experience. My patients show me what persistence and perseverance look like, despite all the odds. They show me what it’s like to be selfless, even when they should be selfish. They remind me to keep joy and hope alive, even when it seems impossible.
They teach me about love – what it looks like to fight for your child, what it looks like to fight for your spouse, what it looks like to fight for your parent. They teach me about families and relationships and friendships, with all their joys and pitfalls.
They remind me to never judge a book by its cover; to keep an open mind, and to listen – not passively, but actively. They teach me about music, art, food, culture, and religion.
They teach me about perspective, to remember the big picture, to forget the small stuff. My patients remind me that life really is short, so we should take the risks, make the change, and focus on the here and now. They remind me that it’s okay to cry, to let yourself be seen, to be vulnerable.
Most of all my patients teach me about gratitude – for as much as they may be grateful for me, I am all the more grateful for them.