• Article
  • October 27, 2021

Pediatric Cancer Nurse Finds Inspiration from Patients

For this pediatric nurse, it’s all about the patients and maintaining a positive environment.

By Grant Heiman

East_TN
Ally Monckton, a nurse in the Hematology/Oncology Department at East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville, TN.

Ally Monckton, a nurse in the Hematology/Oncology Department at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, shares her favorite parts of the job.

Seeing the patients through: My whole career has focused on helping patients who have a long road ahead, first in the NICU and now in the Hematology/Oncology Department. We go on this journey with them, and I want to be able to follow them through their whole story, helping them on the worst days and seeing them to the end on their best days.

Nothing like it: I’ve been at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital since 2016, and I’ve loved my entire experience here. Everyone keeps things fun and positive since we are a children’s hospital, you know, so there’s just a different vibe when you walk in the door.

Keeping play at the center of work: Working with these kids, we get to sing, we have dance parties, and we just keep things as happy as possible. Sometimes accessing a child’s port can be anxiety-inducing for them, so we will have a dance party with their favorite song to get them through the entire process.

We also have this cool car set with a racetrack, and they can play with anything that can just kind of distract them and help them feel like a kid again. Our floor is one big circle, so the kids will ride tricycles around the floor and in the halls, either parents pushing them or on their own. The kids really seem to enjoy it and it gets them some exercise, so it’s a win-win.

Kids are inspiring: Our patients are so resilient; they just bounce back. They’ll have one bad day where they maybe had to get a lot of medication or blood products, and then the next time we see them, they just come bouncing through the door and they’re ready to take on the day. The best days are when we have “off-therapy parties;” when they’re done with treatment, we love to be able to do that and celebrate. Thankfully, all the good days outweigh the bad ones.

Finding motivation: When there are tough days, it’s important to remember we are doing everything we possibly can to get this child through what they’re going through. I’ve got two kids of my own at home, and it’s on the tough days that I give them extra tight hugs and lots of love.

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