CHOC Nurse Shares Compassionate and Courageous Glimpse of the OICU

In honor of National Nurses Week, and the remarkable dedication and care that CHOC nurses provide to our patients and families every day, we’d like to share this narrative by one of our nurses, Kerry Jauregui, from the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.

Kerry Jauregui, OICU Clinical Nurse

Walking onto this unit, is like walking into another world. If you don’t live it, you don’t get it …

• Their hairless, shiny heads are an endearing sight.
• They decorate the face masks they must wear when stepping foot outside their room, with felt mustaches.
• They know how to maneuver their lines – arm up, lying on this side – to get the best lab draw.
• Their NG tubes are referred to as “nose noodles”… and they request that we start making them in pink!
• Their fears and worries are the dreaded painful chemotherapy IM injection they are about to receive, rather than which prom dress to wear.
• Their mile long ‘beads of courage’ hanging from their IV pole resembles so much more than courage… holidays missed at home, trips to the PICU, proms missed, hundreds of chemo and blood infusions, many bad days hurled over the toilet or bucket puking… it is only a mere symbol of their strength during this difficult battle.
• They get gifts and posters, and are sung ‘Happy Transplant Day’ by nurses and child life… while in the outside world, their friends gather and celebrate a birthday party.
• A teenager is not worried about her outfit, hairdo or makeup like her peers, but is more self-conscious of her puffy steroid-induced cheeks.
• They get pulled in wagons down the hallways of the hospital, rather than down the sidewalks to the park.
• They walk holding their IV pole alongside them, rather than the hand of a best friend.
• They wait in anticipation of the morning print out of lab results, comparing and keeping immaculate record of trends and changes… rather than studying algebra.
• They know the names of their chemos rather than their classmates, and will tell you which antiemetic will work best for which chemo.
• Their pain and tears from the injection you gave is disheartening… but seeing them laugh and smile just moments later, realizing the chemo you just gave is saving their life… is truly rewarding.
• Witnessing the newborn who has been on the unit for months, have all of its firsts within the walls of the tiny hospital room… from speaking its first babbles, to teeth beginning to come in… is exhilarating!
• Helping a mother of a child to let go is a heart-breaking, yet sacred, moment.
• The child who was nearing death’s bed in the PICU just weeks ago takes their first step… and from the priceless faces on patient and mom, you know that step means so much more than just a physical act!

I smile in admiration of their strength. I laugh at their playfulness and innocence. I stand amazed by their resilience. I stand speechless in awe of the amount of love and patience the families give. I applaud a mother, who despite her fear and self-doubt, does a perfect CVAD dressing change. I cry worrying about the loss of a child’s innocence and consequently their outlook on life, from such an earth-shattering experience. I hope on behalf of their fight.

I continue to love on these kids and families… and help them to fight their fight alongside of them, because I believe. I believe in a cure. I believe in our science. I believe in our technology. I believe in our mission. I believe in our amazing team. I believe in their resilience. I believe in their strength. I believe in their hope.

Fighting this fight can be tireless, sad, hopeless, draining and frustrating along the way. But saving the life of one of these children, and being there supporting these families every step of the way is the greatest gift and privilege I could possibly ask for! It is my duty to serve. And my honor to join the fight against childhood cancer!

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6 thoughts on “CHOC Nurse Shares Compassionate and Courageous Glimpse of the OICU”

  1. Kerry, your narrative brought tears to my eyes. It is because of wonderful people like you that my daughter Tara was treated and cured of her cancer at CHOC. It is because of people who have a heart like yours that she is now enrolled in nursing school with the dream and determination of becoming a pediatric oncology nurse. You have given us a sense of calm and hope with your smiles, laughter and gentle hands as you work with us to end childhood cancer. Please accept all our thanks and gratitude for taking care of the ones we love.

    1. Thank you, Jill. We will be sure to pass this on to Kerry. She truly is amazing. CHOC Nurses are the Best!

  2. This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for being such a wonderful and caring person. Brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Kerry was one of my daughter, Sarah’s favorite nurses while she was being treated for AML and while she had her bone marrow transplant just recently. If you have read this blog expressed in her own heart-felt words, it’s not hard to see why. All of the above happens on a daily basis, and so much more. Thank you, Kerry, and all of the wonderful nurses on the Oncology/OICU unit, for making such an unbearable ordeal as easy as possible on our kids, as well as on us! We love you!

  4. Wow…that was one of the most touching and real thing I have ever read! It brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart to know there are nurses in the world like you!!

  5. Well said Kerry.

    Kerry was one of the first nurses our son Dean bonded with from OICU. Her bubbly giggle, huge smile and love helped us during some of Dean’s most difficult days. She holds a very special place in our hearts. Thank you Kerry, you’ll never truly know just how much you mean to our family!
    You make us very proud! We miss you!

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