Wider Horizons

tanya vair hines(left) Tanya with patient, Gwen Melnyk.

Tanya Vair Hines is a registered nurse who was born and raised in Medicine Hat. She currently lives on an Alberta ranch with her husband and their three active teenagers. She graduated from the nursing program at Lethbridge College in 1992 and now works in the Community Cancer Centre in Drayton Valley. She received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal this year for the commitment and contributions she has made to her community and profession. Wider Horizons asked her to write about finding inspiration – and being inspirational – in her work.

I have been inspired to live my life by Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

The inspiration to enter the nursing profession began long before I enrolled in the nursing program at Lethbridge College. I was seemingly born into nursing, with both my mother, a recipient of the Heritage of Service Award for Nursing Excellence, and my paternal grandmother having been Registered Nurses. From this lineage I acquired an innate sense of compassion and a desire to help, comfort, and continually acquire knowledge so that I, too, could make a difference as a nurse.

I now have over 20 years of service in the nursing profession between my time in Alberta and Texas. I have worked pediatrics, NICU, intensive care, long-term care, homecare, community health and in a rural hospital. The experiences I’ve had in these various areas helped make me the nurse I am today.

In 2004, opportunity came knocking on the door at the recently opened Community Cancer Centre in Drayton Valley. It enticed me because it was a new opportunity to widen my horizons. I took the leap and never looked back. Twenty-one years ago, I would have never imagined oncology would be in my future. Nor did I realize how complex and challenging it would be or the degree of compassion necessary considering that these patients are all fighting for their lives.

As the primary nurse at the CCC, I collaborate with physicians and other treatment team members to ensure a continuum of care for the patients. Among the nurses I coordinate the sharing of knowledge, treatment strategies and resources. I thrive on developing the smoothest journey possible for the patients as they go through their cancer care, making life easier and services more available for the people in my community and outlying area.

This challenging work has forever changed me as a nurse; all of my patients have left a mark on my life. The scope and duration of cancer care, including chemotherapy, palliative care and survivorship, allows me to develop relationships of trust with my patients and their families. The engagement of patient families and peer groups is integral to helping the patients through this difficult time.

At times it has been impossible to set my own emotions aside as I journey with the patients through this fight of their life. I comfort and encourage them; I laugh with them; I cry with them. I witness their incredible strength and courage; they inspire me. This has been the most challenging and rewarding job of my career. It fulfills my goal of service to humanity and to strive to be the change I want to see in the world.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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