Amplatz Children’s Hospital Nurses Encourage Bravery in Kids Fighting Cancer

Nat's white coat ceremony  11-17-07 009At the end of a work day, like many teachers, I am emotionally exhausted. Students come to my door in tears filled with worry about family members battling cancer, failed chemistry tests, and the big bully in the lunchroom. Weary from my own my health battles, I often wonder how I will find the energy to keep giving. Then I receive a surprise call from my daughter in Minneapolis, a pediatrician, who recounts her work week at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

What could be more discouraging than children battling an evil disease that destroys their dreams? Rich, poor, black, white, Muslim, Jew, cancer does not discriminate. No one grows up on easy street anymore.

When U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital opened in 2011, it was designed to help kids heal as painlessly as possible by offering patient and family centered care. Staff wear colorful – orange, magenta, turquoise – scrubs and the bright, customized private rooms are spacious enough to allow families to stay to help the healing process.

The positive energy of the place can be seen in nurses of  Unit 5, who took time before and after hours to shoot a video with nearly 70 staff members dancing to « Brave » by Sara Bareilles, as a way of encouraging their patients.

“We know these kids, know their stories and what they’ve been through,” the nurses say, “but for other people to see how amazing they are and to be affected in the same way just means so much to them, and we hope it continues to inspire other kids.”

Their little video went viral with over 300,000 viewers. Our daughter abhors the limelight, so she ducked during the filming, but she jumped right on the band wagon promoting it.

When Nathalie’s aunt asked for ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, Nat suggested that in lieu of gifts, we could make donations to Toys-for-Tots , or to Make a Wish, which grants wishes for kids with cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

“A lot of the kids I take care of have had wishes granted by Make-a-Wish, which is a big deal for them and their families,” Nat says.

To the doctors, nurses, families, and children at Amplatz and elsewhere fighting in the face of a despairing disease, as we say in France, « Bon Courage ! »

To my dear daughter, Happy Birthday! May you find the strength to do what you do best : easing children’s pain, calming distraught parents, and encouraging co workers.              .

To the rest of us who think we are weary from our job raising children, think again. We share a privileged role. Whether we are helping kids string together words one syllable at time or battle disease cell by cell, like the Amplatz’s staff implore each of us – teachers, coaches, counselors, parents and grandparents – take time to hug a kid today.

« Be courageous, be brave, be strong

Stay fighting, stay positive, stay courageous

Support the fighters, admire the survivors, honor the taken

Never ever give up hope»

Children are priceless. Each day is a gift. Kindness costs nothing. Positivity perpetuates. Hope prevails.

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20 Comments

  1. There is no greater cause than helping a child in need. A child with cancer? While heartbreakingly tragic, we must step up to the plate to do even more.

    A beautiful article with an important message.

  2. OMG Pat! This made me laugh, cry and move to post your whole blog on Facebook. Thank you for helping us remember how precious our children are and how privileged we are to share in each moment of their lives. Prayers go out to all those who are trying to remain, brave, courageous and strong and for the incredible staff at Amplatz for taking the time to make this inspirational video.

    • I am sure you witnessed the struggles of many patients to battle illness in your nursing career, but it seems even more unjust when it is a child fighting for life. Thanks for passing this post on.

  3. I knew Nathalie was special when she was my student, but I did not realize how special. Wow!

  4. Love this Pat! Nathalie is a true hero right along with all the children and staff who comfort on a daily basis.
    We may struggle raising our kids but how blessed we are that they are healthy.

    • Yes, Joanie, even you and I have faced our own seemingly endless health battles, we have always remembered what a blessing healthy children are. As moms it is much less painful to suffer oneself than to watch one’s child hurting.

  5. Special patients, special staff, special place…made me smile and then brought tears ! Nathalie is carrying on the McKinzie genes….special family.

    • Thanks, Peggy. My parents and grandparents always made sure our bucket of love was so full that we had love to spare and spill over onto others.

  6. Oh my gosh, Pat. This post and video are treasures. It all took me right back to my days working as nurse in Peds Oncology. I can still see the faces of my precious patients who modeled courage and a fighting spirit. God Bless Natalie and all those wonderful nurses who make such a positive difference in the lives of children. I love what you say about perspective, too. We all need reminders that life and health are gifts. Thank you, as always for sharing such a poignant post. You always touch me deeply with your words,bringing tears and smiles. 🙂 And Happy Birthday to Natalie!

    • Kathy, I know that during your career, you were just like the nurses in the video, bringing laughter and love to the Peds oncology ward. And now you are bringing that same sunshine and hope through words on your inspirational blog, Memoir Writer’s Journey. http://krpooler.com/

  7. Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter, Pat. What an unselfish job she has! To be involved with so much potential sadness, yet to dig deep and draw on her inner resources, inspiring her patients and their families to do the same, displays selflessness at its peak. You’re so right — seeing all the misery in this old world should make us grateful for whatever we’ve got (and we’ve all got more than we really need, don’t we?) You done good, Mom, in raising such a daughter!!

    • Thanks, Debbie. Even though, of course, I miss my daughter every day, especially on her birthday, I know that she is right where she is supposed to be doing what she was destined to do. Medicine is more than career, it is a calling. And I, who suffer from hospital phobia and a fear of white coats, marvel that she traveled this path on her own.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to all those amazing individuals in the medical field who have dedicated their lives to improving the quality of other lives. And what an inspirition those young people are who are meeting the cancer fight with such determination and spirit. They are the faces of courage. Happy, happy birthday to Dr. Nat. That compassionate little girl who used to tuck her great grandpa into bed at night, has certainly found her true calling. We couldn’t be prouder.

    • Of course you were a major influence in the making of that doctor. Your love helped shape her into the compassionate professional that she is today.

  9. I watched that beautiful video with tears in my eyes. Words cannot express the gratitude to these wonderful men and women in the medical profession who fight so hard for their brave patients. Happy birthday to your wonderful and selfless daughter.

    • Thanks, Helene, I will pass on your well wishes. Yes, whenever I think my job is overwhelming I remember those brave souls in the medical profession, who work so hard to save lives everyday.

  10. Sis,
    Speechless, after watching the Amplatz Children’s Hospital video.
    Happy Happy BIrthday to our Dr. Nathalie Lechault!

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