COLORADO SPRINGS – September is Childhood Cancer Prevention Month, and as we support children battling childhood cancer, we also recognize nurses who have a lasting impact on those children and their families.
News5 spoke with Rachel Kovacs, a nursing care coordinator at Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs, about the importance of her work and the difference it makes.
She has been working with children for about 21 years and has been an oncology nurse for almost 12 years. Her job is to work with pediatric leukemia patients and their families, and children with bone marrow failure.
“If a child is diagnosed with leukemia, I try to be there as early as possible. If I can, I try to be there with the doctor during the initial diagnosis conversation,” Kovacs said.
She says that while it can be a tough job with ups and downs, she focuses on staying positive as much as possible.
During their treatment, she said: “I answer questions, educate, make sure they have all the medicines they need, all the appointments they need, work with their schools and nurseries and basically everything we can to make life smoother.” and easier for the family. It takes years and months that we can spend with them, and know them and their families, and we become very close.”
She works with sick patients and their families during their childhood cancer journey, during which time she builds long-lasting relationships. But she said it takes a strong mindset to show up to work every day and stay positive, and it’s not always easy.
“Nobody likes to see children sick, nobody likes to see children suffer, and unfortunately that is part of children with cancer,” says Kovacs.
Through it all, she says it’s important to be an advocate for positive mental health and taking care of herself so she can take care of others.
“It’s really great to be a pediatric oncology nurse. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love doing this job, it’s where I’m supposed to be,” Kovacs said. “But to keep appearing and being who you want to be and interacting with patients and families the way you want to, you really need to have an intention to take care of yourself and find meaning in your work.”
While oncology nurses like Kovacs see children on their worst days, she said it’s the best days that keep her going.
“When a child is done with treatment, we have a big bell on the inside that they can ring, and we all come out to cheer them on and those are the best days to come to work,” he said. Kovacs.
The hard days you spend in the hospital eventually turn into celebrating the big moments outside the hospital, such as birthdays, their first day of school and even high school graduation.
Kovacs said she ponders and remembers small moments at the end of each day, such as when she confided a patient smile or formed a human bond with the family. She said it’s something she encourages other staff members to do as well.