Caemon had a tremendous impact on everyone he met at UCSF, but few knew and loved him like his nurses. The relationships he formed with them are such a huge part of his legacy that one blog post is not enough to do it justice. We will likely return to this subject again before the month is over.
We begin with Nurse Amber, a veteran RN who has spent her entire career in pediatric oncology. The day we met her, Caemon had just gotten his hospital haircut, and as a reward for being so patient and still under the clippers, we gave him his Halloween costume early: a set of royal blue scrubs with his name embroidered on the front. He was so handsome and proud with his uniform and stethoscope and name badge. We took him for a walk down the hall, and the nurses fairly swooned at the sight of him. Amber stopped in her tracks and asked “Who do we have here?” From then on, the two of them formed a tight bond; they respected each other, played together, and she was one of his first teachers when it came to learning the basics of nursing. She helped him, and us, set the tone for the remainder of our stay on 7Long. We asked her to write something about Caemon’s impact on her, and here’s what she shared.
Caemon was an incredible little boy. I had heard how incredible he was and how I needed to meet him. It was my lucky day when I got to walk through his door early one morning and be his nurse.
Caemon was such an old soul who had much wisdom to impart on the world in his short time with us. His ability to manipulate his environment to make it a safe place for him, a place to learn and explore, was incredible. He took the scariest experience anyone could be put in and made it ok. He made friends with the objects around him that could have otherwise been very scary. He made his small hospital room come alive, and he brought everyone who was willing to take the time into his world that was safe and secure. He taught everyone he met a lesson on how to deal with difficult situations. His ability to understand feelings and emotions at such a young age never ceased to amaze me. He gave the best hugs, the most genuine, feel-it-in-your-heart, hugs.
It made my day to get to hear his little voice asking questions about how things worked and why things needed to happen this way or that. Then to hear him working it out with his medical toys, talking to the objects that had become friends, processing what was happening to him.
Knowing Caemon has made me a better nurse. I have used ways that Caemon dealt with being hospitalized to help other children who are battling the nasty cancer monster. I have seen these children visibly relax when I help them make friends with the machines and devices that are being used around them. I regularly think of Caemon and what he would have done in a certain situation and how that may help the child whose room I am currently in, how I can use part of that incredible little boy to help this child who is scared and worried by the unknown.
But he hasn’t only impacted my nursing life. Caemon loved the world around him, and he found joy and pleasure in the little things. He reminded me to slow down, look at the world around me, have a tea party, listen to some Jack Johnson or Lumineers while looking out the window at the trees, make some muffins and then eat them all up hot out of the oven, read a story, slow dance with the ones you love, take a drive just beauase, not just to water the garden, but to enjoy it and take wonder in all that is growing. Caemon reminded me to enjoy the everyday and take in the beauty that is the world around us. This little boy will always hold a special place in my heart. His life was far too short, but his impact on the world was enormous.