This past weekend I had the chance to see some nursing friends I hadn’t seen in a while. All vaccinated and sitting at an outdoor table for brunch, it felt like no time had passed. Of course, over a year had gone by since we were able to sit face-to-face and enjoy each other’s company. A small price to pay to keep safe, as they’ve been caring for patients with cancer during the pandemic.

When I left bedside nursing, I knew I would miss the connection with my patients and their families. I knew I’d miss learning about their lives and helping them get through one day at a time. What I underestimated, however, was how much I would miss seeing my coworkers every day. Even though the shifts were long and stressful, I missed that feeling when you were in the nitty gritty of nursing care, only to look up and see your coworker coming in the door to offer a hand. Or when they knew you needed a good laugh at the nurses’ station and were more than willing to oblige.

You remember when you were a kid on the playground, and you met another kid near the swings who liked the same games you liked and laughed at all your jokes? Your automatic best friend? That’s what it’s like when you work long shifts with awesome nurses.

You show up to work ready for whatever comes your way, ready to be the best you can be for your patients, and these people are right there beside you for 12 hours. Don’t get me wrong, there were days there wasn’t time to chat and laugh. But even those days were made more bearable knowing the people working alongside of you were there for the same reasons as you were—to care for your patients and do the best you could for them.

The month of May is designated as “Nurses Month” this year (as opposed to what is normally a week). Brunch with my nursing friends was the perfect way to be reminded of the special bond nurses have with one another. We have seen some pretty terrible things. We know the devastating effects cancer can have on a person and family physically, mentally, socially, and financially, among many others. We have been part of some truly sad conversations and decisions. We’ve shaved heads, held hands, sat down and listened. We’ve felt emotions that, even now, I can’t find the words that will translate. But… above all, we’ve learned to appreciate the daily intricacies of life, to not take people for granted, and to recognize the positives in both life and death.

This month, I want to thank all of the nurses out there for what you do every day. It’s easy to sound trite when you thank nurses, but here at OncoLink, we could not mean it more genuinely. As providers ourselves, we understand how hard it can be. We also rest easy knowing that there is strength in numbers, and you are all out there taking care of one another.

Marisa worked at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on a medical-oncology unit for several years. She then worked as an outpatient infusion nurse in Cherry Hill, NJ, and currently works per diem as a home hospice nurse. She also has her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Scranton, where she played basketball and made many lifelong friends. Originally from Philadelphia, she now resides in Mt. Ephraim, NJ. She spends her free time either in Cape May, skiing in the Poconos, or spending time with her family and friends- including her dog Peanut.