Nurse Kate is a warm and friendly figure in the children’s ward at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra. Her smile radiates the room as children warmly greet her when passing by. A softly spoken figure, Nurse Kate is commanding in her knowledge with over 30 years of nursing experience.
“I don’t know why but I remember very clearly the day I chose to become a nurse. I was six years old and my father tells me I told him with certainty that I wanted to become a nurse. Ever since that day I have wanted to help people and I have continued to do that since my childhood to now.”
Nurse Kate is one of four retired nurses who returned to KBTH in 2011 to support the hospital. She says World Child Cancer programme lead, Professor Renner, did not have to do much convincing;
“Meeting parents and children, giving them support and advice is what motivates me. I have a lot of experience as a nurse but it is my experience as a mother that helps me the most. We don’t talk to families solely as medical experts, we speak to them as mothers who know what they are going through.”
“Some cry from financial problems, others from being single parents and some because they feel guilt that their child has cancer. We try to help them as best we can by giving them the knowledge to cope with their child’s diagnosis. We tell them cancer can affect anyone whether you are rich or poor, a doctor or a single mother. They are not alone in this and the parents who join the ward become a part of a family.”
Nurse Kate explained that through her years there have been many examples of children being cured of their cancer and going on to continue with life after cancer.
“We help families try to understand why their child has developed cancer, making sure they do not feel guilt for their suffering. When children complete treatment and leave the ward, many of them return to tell us about their lives. Some have gone onto university, others have been married and some have even become parents themselves!”
This Christmas, we’re showing our support for nurses in childhood cancer care around the world. Children are the future of our communities around the world and nurses like Kate ensure they can have a life after cancer.