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Self-Care and Wellness at Congress

January 14, 2019
Linda M. Worrall, RN, MSN  I am writing this from my car on a beautiful, sunny January day in Pittsburgh. Yes, it’s true, the sun is out, and I am looking at a blue sky. Finally, a break from the rain and clouds that have been around far too much this winter. The sun coming through the windshield is so relaxing and calming that I can feel the built-up tension in my shoulder and back dissipate. Every day, nurses make critical decisions, comfort patients and their families, support colleagues, celebrate remissions, and, too often, help a patient in their final days to be comfortable. That’s a lot to take on in addition to your personal life that may include aging parents, kids and their numerous activities (Uber driver parents, you know what I mean), and managing a home. The sunshine today makes me think about sunny Anaheim, California, where ONS Congress is going to take place in April. Are you going? Are you thinking about it? I can’t wait. Spending four days in sunny  California with 3,700 oncology nurses from around the world sounds perfect. My favorite part of Congress is meeting other nurses and sharing stories. I find that, whenever I am around other oncology nurses, I don’t feel so alone in my work. Obviously, I am not alone with 3,700 people around me; that’s not what I mean. It’s about the opportunity to talk with others that understand exactly what I am talking about. I don’t need to explain why I chose to work with people with cancer. These nurses understand it is a privilege to care for patients with cancer and also very rewarding. I am not implying it’s not hard, stressful, and sometimes heartbreaking. It is that, but more—it is the feeling you get when you plan and educate patients about their treatment, anticipate their needs before they happen, and provide the best care you can. Where better to share your successes than ONS Congress? Although the plan is to get a lot of CE and bring back information to better care for our patients, we know that the information we garner during Congress is not only from the formal sessions, but also from the interactions we will have with other nurses we meet. In addition to all this learning, I encourage you to take some time for yourself, whether alone or with a new friend you are bound to meet. Use this time away from work and home obligations to take some time for you, to rejuvenate. A healthy, relaxed you guarantees that you are better equipped to handle the day to day pressures when you return. The Oncology Nursing Foundation recognizes the importance of the total you. In addition to providing funding for nurses to pursue their career goals, the Foundation provides nurses with an opportunity to participate in different wellness activities. These activities are to encourage you to think about yourself and your wellness first. Maybe you are a runner, jogger, or walker; if so, the Oncology Nursing Foundation/Pfizer Oncology FunRun is for you. Held in the convention center plaza, this invigorating 5K run or 1.5K walk is a great opportunity to get out in the morning fresh air and move. There will be true runners out there looking for their morning workout and, my all-time favorite, nurses who met a new friend during an education session and are at the FunRun walking, talking, and laughing with their morning coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other. The Foundation also offers a sunrise “Wake Your Warrior” group yoga event outside in the convention center plaza area. Novice and expert yogis can participate in this Friday lunchtime session. Don’t worry—there will be modifications for those new to yoga, with instructors demonstrating various poses. For the novice out there, why not try something new? Like with the FunRun, you will see those who are partaking in their daily ritual and those who need to enjoy a bit of relaxation and laugh as they practice their downward dog with new friends. I encourage you to take care of yourself at Congress. Consider more than the education sessions, and think of what a healthy you can do. Sign up for the FunRun or yoga when you register for Congress or at Congress (at the Pfizer Oncology booth in the Learning Hall for the FunRun or at the Oncology Nursing Foundation booth for yoga).

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