From a Mortar Board to the Greatest Optimistic Hair Style in the World

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Working on the oncology floor differs from the acute care floor as I have been working with the same students all week. One student who is a character, hilarious and catches everything, made a mortar board and graduation gown today. Graduation at the hospital is on the oncology floor for children who have been in the hospital for a duration of time in the last year, to come back and graduate to the next grade. The graduation engulfs the ward as stations are setup for students to parade around to the graduation song and receive presents. Also students who are in isolation join in the festivities as the teachers go into their room and give them their diploma. Every student who participates receives a diploma for their courage and tremendous dedication to their school work in the last year.

The student I helped completed their mortar board and gown with changed my overall experience on the hill. At DCH the ill children always makes one sad, but hopefull in many respects as well. Until my week concluded on the oncology floor, I haven't as doctors would call it "brought my work home," but after building relationships with a couple students the realities becomes more transparent.

The student today helped me place the tassel on the mortar board and then with a huge smile place the hat on their head. The tassel hanged down in front of their face and they began to stroke the pieces of yarn that made up the tassel. Then they started flipping the tassel around as models do with their hair on shampoo commercials, smiling and laughing at their own movements while batting their eyelashes. Then the student said "Look Sarah its like my hair!" Struck by the comment the reality of the child's situation became relevant as they opened a mirror and was looking at their hair made of yarn. The patient has lost all their hair due to chemotherapy treatment for cancer. The student said this still with a large smile on their face, as I wonder if they fully understand the situation surrounding their treatment and prognosis. The subtle moments of grief are masked by the optimism and resiliency of children.