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32 Years: A Pediatric Oncology Nurse Looks Back

BY Jane Dunleavy

Jane Dunleavy Silo

Jane Dunleavy is a senior Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation at Columbia University Medical Center. Here she reflects on all she has experienced as a pediatric oncology nurse in the last three decades.

This year marks 32 years since I started as an RN at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center…Babies Hospital…NY Presbyterian…Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital…so many names but it will always be COLUMBIA to me. 

8/15/83 was a big day in the life of this young, naive, petrified RN. I never could have imagined that 32 years later I’d be typing this. 

I’ve seen more death and dying than one person ever should…

I’ve also seen triumph, strength, grace, humility and courage like nothing you could ever imagine. 

I’ve laughed and cried with my patients. I’ve met them for ice cream while visiting on Cape Cod. This year I attended the Bar Mitzvah of an Orthodox boy who I watched grow from a child to a man during his treatment. I’ve made home visits to give comfort and baked goods to the mom of a special little boy who was on hospice. I’ve baked cookies and cupcakes for them and even beat one mom in a chocolate chip cookie bake-off.

But most of all I learned from my patients and their families. I learned that nothing is impossible. I learned that even when you think that you have no strength left, you actually do! I learned that life is way too short. I learned that a nod, smile or kind word means the world to someone who is stressed or hurting. I learned that there is always “reason to believe.” I learned that I can’t lose heart, there are too many more kids and families to meet. 

Anyone who knows Jane also knows that she is one of the world’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fans. Celebrate his birthday today with a donation in Jane’s honor!

Comments (1)

I have known Jane since high school. She is kind, caring and has a terrific sense of humor. She is dedicated to her work at Columbia with pride and love. Jane is truly an angel on earth.

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