When I tell people that I work with teenage cancer patients, I often find myself cringing as I wait for their reaction. All to often I get a pained expression of sympathy that I have to do such a 'sad' job, and others just look at me like I'm absolutely mad for wanting to work in such a 'depressing' job. Its a good measure of people though, if somebody reacts and says something like "that must be really rewarding" or even just a "ooh that sounds like an interesting job" I generally have far more respect for people with that sort of reaction rather than somebody who has an automatic assumption that my job is all doom and gloom.
Ok, so there are times when inevitably working in the big bad world of cancer is pretty tough as sadly not everybody has a happy ending, but 99% of the time its actually a pretty brilliant place to work. Cancer patient or not, the kids are still just normal teenagers most of the time and some of them are bloody hilarious... I had one 16 year old yesterday who was telling me that she was planning a house party at the weekend because her Mum and Dad were going out all the while her non-English speaking Dad was sat right next to us thinking she was telling me about how college was going.
One thing my job really has taught me is perspective. I know so many kids who've had to go through some truly horrible, life changing stuff. I know a fair few who've lost a limb to cancer but they somehow manage to get through that and still come out of it the other end with a smile and a crazy amount of determination to make their future everything they've ever wanted and more, seizing every opportunity because they're just so thrilled they've got their lives back. It really makes me think about things if I've had a bad day or if something is getting me down. Moping about things doesn't get you anywhere- having determination to pick yourself up and make things better is what life is all about. Cancer doesn't have to be the end of the world for the teenagers I work with, and our own problems don't have to be the end of our world either. Life is for living and enjoying, none of us know how long we've got on this planet but we really owe it to ourselves to make the most of it and do everything we can to enjoy it.