When Nurses Grieve

By Christine Jonas-Simpson June 27th, 2012

I watched the tears drop from my nurses’ eyes as they gently took my blood and when they hugged me goodbye at the end of their shifts. My sweet curly red-haired son died and was born still after his cord knotted when I was 37 and a half weeks pregnant – he was nearly 6 pounds. My nurses and family remained by my side, the specialist who induced me followed up on his day off and my family doctors cried with me at home.

I was deeply moved and comforted by my caregivers’ expressions of grief. While I was living my worst nightmare I could not help but wonder what it was like for my healthcare colleagues to grieve and bear witness to our devastating loss. As a nurse I experienced grief of my own patients as well as identified with their families’ losses – these moments transformed me.

When my son died in 2001, I could not find research on nurses’ experiences of grieving when a baby dies and how this changed them. Healthcare professional grief was and continues to be hidden and not often discussed. Given I was a nurse and a researcher, I decided [...] continue the story

I don’t trust my GP to manage my cancer follow-up | Globe and Mail Q&A

The question: I’m in treatment for early-stage breast cancer. When it’s done, I’ll be sent to my general practitioner, whom I have little faith in. I’ve had excellent, patient-focused care from medical staff treating my cancer. Should I find a new doctor or stick with this one who, for better or worse, at least knows my history?

The answer: Given the background information you gave me on your GP – reluctant to order tests, not a good listener, dismissive – you are right to be concerned. I’ve seen how well oncologists advocate for their patients; your fondness for them is well placed.

A study published this year in the journal Current Oncology found that 87 per cent of early stage breast cancer patients surveyed in Ontario preferred to visit their cancer specialist for routine follow-up.

Like you, most cancer patients in Canada are sent back to their GPs. So long as a follow-up plan is in place, it’s the best way to provide good quality, cost-effective care.

Sandy Sehdev, a medical oncologist at William Osler Health System in Brampton, Ont., said cases such as yours can result from a patient feeling that the GP did not act rapidly on a lump. Other patients don’t [...] continue the story