Thirteen years ago I was asked by an anesthesiologist,
“If you could do anything for a living and not get paid, what would you do?”
Without hesitation I replied,
“Treat children with cancer."
At the time, I was volunteering at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego and decided it was something I could never give up. In the four years of volunteering, I had rotated in the Hematology-Oncology, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Orthopedic Rehabilitation wards. Though NICU and Ortho-Rehab were just as rewarding, I found my passion to be in the Hem-Onc ward. While volunteering on the Hematology-Oncology ward I was attracted to how supportive the families were of one another and was awed by the knowledge of nurses and doctors.
There was one nurse in particular, Samantha, who always said hello to me, played with the kids in the playroom, and spent hours educating families about cancer. Sam truly embodied compassion and had a profound impact on those families. I was inspired and determined to make this portion of my life part of my career.
I took a few years to research different aspects of the medical profession - from degrees for Medical Doctors, Physician Assistants, Child Life Specialists, Registered Nurses, to hospital administration and management. Already having received my Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry, I was able to complete a bridge program RN to Masters of Science in Nursing in 18 months. I have been a nurse for the past 10 years working in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Five years ago I returned to Rady Children’s Hospital with pride. I am honored and grateful to say that I work along side with Sam.
As nurses we have repulsive, gut wrenching, teary eyed, and exhausting moments. On the other hand, we see life changing miracles that bring more joy to our hearts than one can measure. For that I will always be a nurse.
About the author:
Julia Fukuhara MSN, BS, RN has been a pediatric hematology and oncology nurse for the past nine years, as well as working as a certified yoga teacher and fitness instructor. Her extensive knowledge of nutrition and fitness allows her to help guide families to a healither approach to treating their illnesses.