Friday, 10 June 2011

Understanding Pediatric Cancer (5): Personal Experience

If you have been diligently following my series of posts on pediatric cancer for the past week, thank you so much for your support! After all that information-heavy posts, I thought it would be good to end off with a post on my reflections and experiences as a researcher in the field.

My Personal Research Experience at NUH

I started sending out emails asking the Head of Department of Paediatrics of NUH and the Head of Pediatric Haematology/Oncology for permission and they gave it to me readily. However, getting Ethics approval to actually start data collection was much harder. The ethics people were understandably concerned as this was a vulnerable population. After waiting for a year, DSRB finally gave me the go-ahead to start my project.


I was introduced to the oncologist, nurses and adminstrators who were tasked to work with me in collecting the data. I love them! Without them, I would not have been able to do anything in the clinic so kudos to them =)

A typical day of data collection begins with me in the clinic at 8.30am in the morning. I was already pregnant with baby girl so people treated me with less suspicion (ah the benefits of relating to other mothers/fathers). Nurse N would pass me a list of the patients coming in for the day and I will approach them and invite them to take part in my research. It's just filling out a couple of survey questions and was voluntary, so they really don't have to do it if they don't want to.

But many of them do! Whether it's because they are really interested or just couldn't reject a very pregnant researcher, I don't know. But I was very glad that they did. They are real heroes =)

The atmosphere in the clinic is generally very optimistic. Some parents have been in and out of the clinic for many years so they know the drill with the back of their hands. Others have just been introduced to it so they looked very overwhelmed. But still, they try their best to be strong for their children. They hold their young children's hands and try not to wince when the needle goes in. They comfort their kids even though they themselves need comforting. I admire them greatly for their strength.

The children too have incredible spirit. They triumph against incredible odds. Although some younger ones will cry in great distress because of the blood test, many others bravely endure it week after week. Even though they may be tired and weak, they still try their best to answer my questions. They are real champions.

The NUH staff at the clinic greets every child by name when they arrive. The children love the nurses there and the nurses love them. Staff from the Children's Cancer Foundation speak with the parents and offer them support. Contrary to what most people think, the cancer clinic is not a dreary place. It is alive with hopes, dreams, and most of all love.

I thank God for the incredible privilege to be able to work with this population of fighters. I have learnt much and hope I would one day be back to work with them again =)

<< Back to Understanding Pediatric Cancer (4): Alleviating Negative Effects

UPDATE: If you'll like to find out the results of my research, my complete thesis can be found on the NUS Scholar Bank (Part 1 & Part 2) =)

This post is part of my series on My Pediatric Cancer Research
Read on to learn more about childhood cancer and its impact.
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