Reaching Out To Your Nurse

by Kelly Scheu, RN

The time has come again to visit the doctor’s office and the anxiety begins to build. You maybe are going for a new consultation, a three-, six-, or twelve-month visit with scan results. As you make your way to the office, the questions begin to formulate in your head on what to ask the doctor and you are trying to recall all the symptoms you have experienced and the day they occurred since the last time you were at the office. As you are put in an exam room with your head swimming in thought, the door opens and the nurse walks in. The moment you have been preparing for is upon you.

I am sure all of you reading this have experienced the above scenario. I am also sure some of you have felt a little let down when you see the door open and the nurse walks in instead of the doctor. You say to yourself, “come on I am here to find out my scan results from the doctor or I want to tell the doctor about my symptoms and finally maybe you say to yourself I just want treatment answers.” The role of the nurse is not to prolong your anxious state but to help lessen it by providing a caring smile and listening to what you have to say.

The nurse begins by gathering a comprehensive history from you about how you have been doing since your last visit. The nurse wants to know about any and all symptoms experienced but, most importantly, the nurse wants you to share your feelings and thoughts on living with diagnosis of GIST and the unknown that goes with the rare diagnosis. The nurse is there to be your confidant, and as the trust builds you hopefully will feel comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and fears. The nurse can also be your advocate and help explain to the doctor what you are experiencing and what questions you may have. The nurse is there to make the situation clearer by explaining what the doctor discussed maybe in terms a little easier to understand, also to explain the tests which are being ordered, and most of all explain what all of this means right then and there for you and your loved ones.

What you experience and what you feel do matter, and there is no reason to keep it inside. The nurse is there to help you through the process of dealing with sarcoma; you don’t have to go it alone. So, the next time you are at the doctor’s office, reach out to the nurse and I hope you find it to be very rewarding and most of all very beneficial.