Patient after patient, day after day, and often with no time to eat, let alone to take ten minutes to reflect on how tough cases are affecting them. I work amongst doctors, nurses and pharmacists, and I also grew up with doctors (my mother is a family physician). Watching my mother totally and completely dedicate her life to her chosen profession was pretty educational; I know from living my childhood that “work-life balance” wasn’t a concept that actually existed for physicians or nurses back when she went to medical school (class of '73). I have witnessed first hand the toll its taken on her, and I’ve seen doctors I work with now, everywhere from being on the verge of tears to the other end of the spectrum, on total emotional lockdown, no doubt a difficult and unfortunately learned skill.
About 7 of my 15 years working in the healthcare system in Ontario, have been in oncology. Sometimes people would say to me, isn't it depressing, working in cancer? For me, it has never been depressing, but incredibly hopeful; however, I know that for many of the oncology professionals I know, it can be in fact, really, really hard a lot of the days.
How exactly are you supposed to do your job efficiently, accurately and with as much compassion as you can if you fall apart every time you lose a patient to cancer?