DiversityNursing Blog

Nurse Writes Letter Apologizing to Patients After Being Diagnosed With Cancer

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Nov 29, 2016 @ 03:35 PM

lindsay-norris-family-3-zoom-de32d1d9-fb60-4f8f-8238-8c2a3682dd31.jpgAs a Nurse you must be compassionate and sometimes you need to deliver hard news to a patient. No one can truly understand what someone goes through unless they have walked in the same shoes. Lindsay Norris had given heartbreaking news to patients many times as an Oncology Nurse but never knew exactly what her patients felt about the news until she got the news herself. She then wrote a letter addressed to every single one of her patients. See what this Nurse had to say.

“Dear every cancer patient I ever took care of, I’m sorry. I didn’t get it.” That is the title of the open letter oncology nurse Lindsay Norris wrote for her blog, Here Comes the Sun 927.

Norris penned the powerful piece on November 14, two months after she was diagnosed with stage III colorectal adenocarcinoma. “I didn’t get what it felt like to actually hear the words,” the 33-year-old from Olathe, Kansas, admitted in her note. “I didn’t get how hard the waiting is … I didn’t get how awkward it was to tell other people the news … I didn’t get the mood swings … I didn’t get that it hurts to be left out.”

“I didn’t get why you were always suspicious. You couldn’t help but wonder if [the doctors] all knew something you didn’t about your prognosis,” the mom of Harrison, 3, and Evelyn, 7 months, revealed. “We shared the percentages and stats with you — and that every cancer is different … but still — is there something more? Something they were protecting you from or just felt too bad to tell you? Logically, I know the answer to this but find myself with these feelings as well. I’m sorry. I didn’t get it.”

But Norris’ greatest regret? “I didn’t get how much you worried about your kids,” she wrote. “I should’ve talked to you more about them — and not just in terms of lifting restrictions or germs. You worried about how this was going to affect them. You worried about not being able to keep up with them or care for them properly on your bad days. You worried they’d be scarred and confused. You worried about leaving them. I’m sorry. I didn’t get it.”

The oncology nurse, who is currently undergoing oral chemotherapy and radiation, has been leaning on her husband of four years, Camden. “You felt thankful when your spouse would say, ‘Go get some rest and I’ll take care of the kids,’ but your heart hurt overhearing them play in the other room away from you, wondering if that was a glimpse into their future that didn’t have you in it,” Norris mused in her letter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get it.”

Norris tells Us Weekly she’s learning to accept help — a topic she touched upon in her blog. “A few weeks ago I woke up feeling quite ill. This was still when I was insisting on bringing my kids to school myself,” she tells Us.“Halfway there I had to stop at a gas station to get sick. We went in the restroom, and we didn’t even make it in the door before I threw up. Of course my 3-year-old was concerned and asking a million questions. I felt pretty pathetic. I think it was just the first time I had to admit to myself that my treatment was affecting me.” Ever since then, Camden, 37, has been shuttling Harrison and Evelyn to school and daycare.

Meanwhile, Norris is focusing on what’s good. “Thanksgiving was a really nice day for me. Staying home with my little family with no plans felt amazing. Camden made a little turkey and stuffing for dinner,” she tells Us.“When I asked Harrison what he was thankful for, he answered, ‘God, my best friend Cooper, milk and my sissy.’ The future may not be promised, but when I look around, the view is beautiful.”

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