Cancer Patients Teach Nurse Importance Of Love

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Dana Viviano with her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina. i

Dana Viviano with her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina. StoryCorps hide caption

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Dana Viviano with her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina.

Dana Viviano with her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina.


Dana Viviano has cared for cancer patients for the past 15 years. At Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, she tells her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina, that it's horrible telling people they're going to die, but a lot of times they already know.

"They know it and you know it, because they don't feel good, and they know what we're doing to them is not making them better," says Viviano, whose mother died from breast cancer 16 years ago. "So a lot of times when we have that talk with them, they've kind of prepared for it."

Viviano says all her patients teach her something.

"I learn about fear, and I learn about hope, and I really learn what love is. Love is that deep, intense feeling for another person's soul," she says. "[I've learned] that it's OK to let that person go. We all don't know how long we're going to be on this planet, and that's why it's important to love each other and to cherish a human being."

Sarafina, who wants to work in the medical field when she grows up, tells her mother she's like an angel on Earth. "You come down and try your best to heal people," she says. "You're amazing."

Produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman and Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University in St. Louis.



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