Fort Worth, Texas,
05
September
2017
|
10:31 PM
America/Chicago

'We Never Run Out of Hope'

What It's Like to Be a Pediatric Cancer Nurse

By Ashley Parrott

The Hematology/Oncology (H/O) floor at Cook Children’s is its own world. Bright green walls lead the way among the hustle and bustle of the daily routines of patients, families and doctors. But behind the miracles happening on the Hematology/Oncology floor is the dedication of pediatric nurses like Paige Cravens.

Though she has only been with Cook Children’s for two years, Cravens has quickly become a valued nurse on the H/O floor because of her genuine passion for children.

“Paige has one of the most caring and compassionate personalities on our floor,” Cook Children’s Hematology/Oncology Nurse Manager Jessica Williams Henry, RN said. “Whenever you meet her you can feel that her energy is positive and you feel safe with her.”

Although the stress and nature of a Hematology/Oncology nurse is demanding, Paige is known as a light to other nurses and patients on the floor.

“She’s really become a leader,” Williams Henry said. “It’s shifted our culture on the H/O floor because if it’s a bad day and Paige shows up, it’s instantly better because if she can see the positive in something then everyone else is going to try to see it too.”

The diagnoses on the H/O floor are serious and often require immediate treatment, but Paige is with her patients from beginning to end, offering support, encouragement and treating her patients as if they are her own family.

“I think my favorite thing to witness is the journey from diagnosis to completion of therapy,” Cravens, a registered nurse (RN), said. “When you admit a newly diagnosed child, the emotions in the room are heavy, as you can imagine. Through the tears and hard conversations, I always try to squeeze in some words similar to ‘I am not saying this will be easy, but I mean it when I say this place will become home and these people will become like family,’ and most often that is exactly what happens.”

Not only does Cravens understand the practices and general knowledge of nursing, she is able to recognize minor changes and is known to always push for more to ensure the best care for her patients.

“Paige is really proactive and a huge advocate for her patients,” Cook Children’s Nurse Manager Jordan Richter, RN, said. “She’s very in tune to her assessment skills and doing everything for the patient to keep them safe. Paige is just one of those nurses that you wish you could clone.”

Some may believe it is best to detach from emotions when working in a children’s hospital, however Cravens is known as a genuine nurse who will shed tears with heartbroken families, but also celebrate in the accomplishments of her patients.

“Paige will cry with a family, she’ll laugh with a family, she gets down at that level,” Richter said. “She’s raw with her emotions and families can tell she cares. She’s the definition of what anyone would want for a H/O nurse.”

The mere thought of an extended stay in a hospital is typically something most children would want to avoid, but the magic that happens at Cook Children’s is enough to change the stigma of a place where healing can happen.

“The kids are so resilient, it amazes me. They have to trade out going to school with hospital admissions, friends for nurses and doctors, but more often than not they come walking through the door with a big smile on their face,” Cravens said. “They face things that no person, no child, should ever have to go through, yet they still have joy. They have this will to fight, and they never give up. They find a way to overcome.”

Although miracles do happen, pain and loss also reside on the Hematology-Oncology floor.

“The difficult situations seem endless at times. Our patients and families experience so much loss in all senses of the word, from the loss of all normalcy, togetherness as a family, financial security, loss of hair to sometimes loss of life itself,” Cravens said. “Watching it all unfold rips your heart out. But hope never runs out and I think that is what sustains each of us. We watch whole towns come together in support, kids pushing past the impossible, fears conquered, faith restored and prayers lifted. There is beauty in that.”

For Cravens, a nursing career at Cook Children’s is more than just a job, it’s a family and a place where magic and miracles are real.

“We had a little girl who pretended to be Elsa, wig and all, who would call Cook Children’s her castle,” Cravens said. “She loved being at her castle, and when it came time for her last chemo, we all celebrated with posters and balloons. When she caught on that it was her last time coming in to stay at the castle, she kicked and screamed the whole way out. That really says something about this place.”

#erasekidcancer

The funds we raise together during September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, will support life-saving research, treatments, technology and programs for patients and families at Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Please help us create hope for kids, families and caregivers who are fighting every day to #erasekidcancer. Text "erase" and your amount you would like to donate to 682-307-4500 or click here to make a donation.  To purchase an #erasekidcancer  T-shirt, click here.

Comments 1 - 8 (8)
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Sallykanneh
05
September
2017
Cook children hospital is a beautiful place to have you love one, the nurse staffs are amazing and incredible nice to patients and their family members!!!
About four years ago I had my son at Harris Methodist hospital in Fort Worth Texas. But they run out of nursery crib. So my son was send to cook children in Fort Worth. There I saw nurses and physicians who gives Parents hope that their kids will survive. Nurses that will seat in the patients room feed them and wait until they are sure that the patient is okay!!!
All I want to say is thanks y'all for doing great job!!!
Robert Box
05
September
2017
I'm not sure if my son Josh ever had Paige as a nurse but I can tell she would be a true asset to Cooks H/O floor. She would fit right in with all the other great nurses (crazy in a fun kind of crazy) there. That has to be a tough profession to be in, continue to stay positive and upbeat knowing there are those that might not win the battle. The H/O staff along with Cooks has a special place in my family's ❤️
Rosey Gonzales
06
September
2017
Paige Craven was one of our favorite nurses while my daughter Ivy received treatment. She always danced with her when our daughter played her Dora guitar. During the hardest times, Paige and the other H/O nurses always took the time to love, and care for my daughter, while also making sure that we were informed, and comfortable. Words can never express the gratitude and love we have for the Cook children's H/O nurses.
Kerry Dudley
06
September
2017
Paige was always outstanding as a senior 1 student at TCU so hearing she excels at bedside does NOT surprise me st all!!!! Congratulations Paige! Your accomplishments made my day and you deserve big KUDOS !!!!
Rose Adams
06
September
2017
Great job Paige. So excited to see one of our TCU graduates making her place and brightening the lives of children at Cooks.
Juliana Wootten
07
September
2017
Beyond grateful for Paige, Jessica, Lauren, Abby, Sarah, and Alan (to name a few) for their love and compassion toward not only John-Mark but also myself and our family. It is their love and kindness that makes Cooks home ❤️
Marketshia Jones
09
September
2017
You Rock Paige.. I'm just the food delivery girl and although I don't see you much just passing by, you make me feel like part of the team just from your kindness and warm smile.. The kids are very lucky to have you as a nurse..
Cheryl Petersen
10
September
2017
Hemology and Oncology team....Your spirit of hope and love is fantastic! Be strong and resilient! Your work and appreciated and admired!
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photo:Jeff Calaway
Jeff Calaway
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