Walking into my very first OR shift in my blue scrubs, I was excited to finally observe a surgery first-hand. I had tried to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to see, but after my first shift, I truly had no idea what I was about to experience.
Looking at the list of surgeries that were going to begin Tuesday morning, I was excited to see almost anything. However, when a mastectomy, which is a breast removal surgery typically due to cancer, showed up, I knew that was the first surgery I wanted to observe. Breast cancer is such a common and prevalent cancer among women in the United States. I learned that about every one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer once in their lifetime. As I walked towards OR 4 a few short minutes later, I suddenly grew extremely anxious. Will the surgeons and nurses be annoyed that I am there when they are conducting such a serious surgery? Should I ask any questions to show my interest, or will that be considered disrespectful? Where should I stand in the room? As these looming questions overwhelmed me, I slowed down and tried to calm down.
However, from the corner of my eye, I saw one of the nurses rolling the patient into OR 4 on a stretcher, I immediately forgot all of my concerns. Why should I be so worried? I’m just a volunteer! However, this patient is going to have a life-changing surgery. She must be so incredibly nervous and my role as a volunteer is to provide any support to patients that I can in this stressful environment. I mustered up the courage to walk into OR 4, took a deep breath, and introduced myself to the nurses and surgeons. Everyone was so excited to have me observe! They told me to stand in the side of the room and ask any questions at any time during the surgery. As I stood in my spot, I made eye contact with the patient and smiled. She smiled back. Although I wanted to make conversation with this patient and try to distract her, the nurses were to busy preparing her for the surgery and I did not get the opportunity to do so. However, I hope that my smile helped her feel a little more comfortable in this scary and overwhelming environment. I know her smile sure did that for me.