A Q&A with a Pediatric Chemotherapy Nurse

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a chemotherapy nurse? Meet Registered Nurse Michelle Dawson, who has worked as a pediatric chemotherapy nurse at McMaster Children’s Hospital for 18 years.

Michelle Dawson points at a chemotherapy pump.

Michelle Dawson

What does a typical work day look like for you?

“In the outpatient clinic, our mornings are spent administering chemotherapy and transfusions to patients, as well as performing procedures like lumbar punctures for the 20 to 40 patients we see each day in treatment. Our afternoons are focused on case management, which includes booking tests and follow-up appointments. It’s also the time when we are available to our families. They know they can reach us to answer questions, or just to talk.”

What do you look forward to the most when you arrive at work each day?

“I look forward to seeing the kids. You become part of their family and there is a mutual bond that develops between us. You watch these patients grow on their journey and you celebrate the milestones together.

People always ask me how I’m able to work with children who have cancer. It is because I’m inspired by the strong and resilient patients. I truly believe in miracles because I see them all the time in my patients.”

We are fundraising to renovate the Oncology Clinic. What would you say to encourage someone to donate?

“Kids need to be kids. The clinic is a place where patients can play with other kids while receiving treatment. Families also interact with other families who are going through similar situations. It’s a place that brings people together, and we need a bigger space that better addresses the needs of patients based on age groups. Donations will help make the clinic more comfortable and efficient for patients, families and staff.”