I came to Singapore to study since a young age. After completing my studies, my first career choice was nursing, and I have been a nurse since.
I considered myself to be an experienced nurse after 24 years of practice especially since I have worked in several different specialties. It was only recently, after I joined Melissa Teo Surgery and The Surgical Oncology Clinic, that I realized how "small" and "poor" I am. In my past positions, I have never encountered the type of conditions and procedures which this clinic doctors' treat - from the negative pressure V.A.C. dressings to the Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) and Hyperthermic intraperitoneal Chemotherapy ( HIPEC ) surgery! The learning curve has been very steep! And to be honest, I found the beginning to be challenging; in fact, I considered giving up. However, the first month went by so quickly, and somehow I found myself drawn to this area of care. I find that providing care for the patients and their families at their time need is very rewarding .
Whilst we cure or prolong the lives of many patients, some may be nearing their end but continue to be so appreciative…… This truly makes all my stresses and heartache of the day worthwhile. I recall a patient who confided in me about her feelings towards her impending death, all while I was doing a ward procedure for her. At one point as I sat next to her bed and held her hand as she cried, I couldn’t hold back my own tears anymore, and I cried with her. I felt embarrassed about crying and thought I should instead be strong for her. I apologized and she told me “Shirley, you wouldn’t be a good nurse if you didn’t care enough to cry with me.” She later came back to me and shared how appreciative she was about the difference our team of doctors and nurses have made in her life, and showed how much better she is doing. This experience put me over the moon! It’s moments like these that reaffirms for me that I am meant to hold the hands of cancer patients, as they journey and fight their heroic battle against this awful disease.
I have been attempting to encourage everyone around me to be appreciative of what they have these days. Some people constantly grumble about things, but they don’t realize that there are people who don’t even have tomorrow to look forward to. I also don't let the small stuff bother me and don't take any blessings for granted, regardless of how big or small it may be. My calling in this job is to do my best to help my patients to not just live longer, but also with a better quality of life - because there is so much to live for!
- Written by Shirley