When an Oncology Nurse Becomes a Cancer Mom: How One Nurse Navigated Her Child’s Leukemia Diagnosis

In this episode of “The Vitals,” Dr. Janice Post-White discusses how she balanced working as an oncology nurse through her child’s cancer diagnosis, and the lessons she learned from the experience.

In this special episode of “The Vitals,” Oncology Nursing News® and CURE® Magazine met with Janice Post-White, PhD, RN, FAAN, to discuss her recently published book, “Standing at Water’s Edge.”

Post-White was an oncology nurse when her 4-year-old son, Brennan, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Throughout our discussion, she reflects on the intersections of her professional and personal life, the lessons she learned, and offers advice for those processing their own grief in the wake of cancer.

“I remember saying to one student, ‘You know, I really need to know more about pediatric oncology.’ And, that year, my son was diagnosed... I guess you have to be careful what you wish for. But what I also learned is that [although] I had a PhD in nursing, and I had a [cancer] background, with a minor in immunology, pathobiology, I was interested in psycho-neuro-immunology, or how the mind and the body communicate. All of my research focused in that area, but none of what I did prepared me to be a cancer mom.”

“I did immune assays in the lab and I studied imagery and massage and mindfulness meditation, healing touch therapies, and everything I [thought] I knew about cancer. I thought I knew what it was. But it was when my son was diagnosed that I learned, I really don't know how to be a [caregiver]. There's a lot more than just knowing and the knowledge; it's really the emotional realm.”