Cancer Patients Teach Nurse Importance Of Love Eleven-year-old Sarafina Viviano wants to go into the medical field when she grows up. She asks her mother, Dana Viviano, a nurse who cares for cancer patients, what she's learned from her patients and what it's like to tell someone he's going to die.
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Cancer Patients Teach Nurse Importance Of Love

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Cancer Patients Teach Nurse Importance Of Love

Cancer Patients Teach Nurse Importance Of Love

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It is Friday morning, which is when we hear conversations from StoryCorps.

This project is recording interviews with everyday people like Dana Viviano. She is a nurse. For the past 15 years she's been caring for cancer patients. And at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, Dana sat down to answer some questions from her 11-year-old daughter, Sarafina.

Ms. SARAFINA VIVIANO: I understand your mom had breast cancer. What was that like?

Ms. DANA VIVIANO: It was very scary. She'd been very sick. And they took her to a hospital and a physician came out to talk to us when we got there and told us that she had cancer and that they didn't expect her to survive. And I remember thinking that there was a way that they could've told us that was softer.

Ms. S. VIVIANO: Is that why you wanted to become a cancer nurse?

Ms. D. VIVIANO: You know, I think so. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Ms. S. VIVIANO: How does it feel to you telling someone they're going to die?

Ms. D. VIVIANO: Oh, it's horrible. A lot of times when you get to that point, 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. So, a lot of times when we have that talk with them, they've kind of prepared for it.

Ms. S. VIVIANO: Are you friends with some patients.

Ms. D. VIVIANO: Um-hum. They all teach you something. They've taught me to celebrate the smallest things in life, like hair growing back. I learn about fear, and I learn about hope, and I really learn what love is. And love is that deep, intense feeling for another person's soul and that it's okay 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, you know, to cherish a human being.

Ms. S. VIVIANO: I really think God wanted you to be what you are because you're awesome at it. You make patients smile. You walk in the room and they're all, like, Dana, oh my gosh, she's here. To me, you are maybe the angels on Earth. You come down and try your best to heal people. You are my hero.

Ms. D. VIVIANO: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Dana Viviano and her daughter Sarafina in St. Louis.

Interviews from StoryCorps are archived at the Library of Congress and you can find the Podcast at NPR.org.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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