No Hands But Yours.

I was 23 years old when I became a cancer nurse in St. Luke’s Hospital in Dublin and it was an instant love of my life. I absolutely loved each person I had the honour to serve as cancer nurse. What really struck me about cancer care was the fact that as a nurse you were encouraged to chat with your patients and to get to know them. This was never possible as general nurse in which you were always running and racing up and down the ward.

The second thing that became very clear to me about cancer nursing was that each nurse had a particular calling within the ward. Some nurses were brilliant at chemo and knew everything to know about each drug and its side effects. Other nurses were spectacular at radiotherapy and monitoring patients’ reactions and responses to it. Then there were the nurses who were truly at ease with the Soul of the person, with death and dying, truly at ease with sitting by the bedside of a person as they asked aloud “Am I dying nurse?” Truly at ease with their spirituality and spiritual beliefs no matter what they were. Truly at ease being a solid, calm, gentle support for families and friends who were devastated with the impending loss of a loved one. I was one of those nurses truly at ease with the soul of each person I came in touch with. I was known as the “Smiley Nurse” and I realised that humour and lightness of being were as important if not more important than drugs and radiotherapy

On morning, I was working in a male ward in St. Luke’s Cancer Hospital and I was busily attending to the care of all my patients. I was moving through my tasks with lightness and humour and was good at spinning an old tale or two to bring a good old belly laugh to a mind that was overwrought with worry or fear. About three hours into my shift an old man on the opposite side of the ward who was not under my care called me over. I went over to him and before I could say a word to him he said “Nurse, only by looking at you I will be healed”. I was dumbstruck by these words and still am to this day. I do not remember what I said to this old man in response but I have often reflected on those profound words and what he saw in me that encouraged him to utter them. I believe that God works in and through each one us, to channel sacred and essential healing of the mind, body and spirit to others through our hands, our eyes, our hearts and our actions.

Let us be the eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet of God since he has no hands but yours.

Marguerite Brady


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