Angelika Panova

September 2009
Class of 2012


This I believe about nursing… “Through nursing, I will have the opportunity to comfort others and serve with the care and compassion that was once provided to me.”

Why did I decide to become a nurse? My earliest memories go to my childhood when I was five. I was born and lived in Central Asia before moving to the United States. There, it was assumed that children didn’t feel the full intensity of pain that adults did and were not offered any pain relief even during surgeries. I had four surgical procedures performed to remove my tonsils and adenoids over the period of three years, all without pain relief.
I remember when my mother would take me to the children’s hospital. She wasn’t allowed to come in and had to wait in the lobby. I can still remember Ms. Mary, who was my surgical nurse during these four surgeries. Even 30 years later, I can still remember her wrinkled eyes, feel her comforting hugs and hear her whispers filled with magic words. She would say, “ I am with you, don’t be frightened, I will not leave you. Just squeeze my hand when it hurts. I will take some of your pain, so we share it, and it won’t hurt so much.”
It sounds strange as I think back on how the surgery was performed. Currently, I am being trained as a nurse myself. I know that many of the things Ms. Mary did would never be allowed today.
Ms. Mary was my angel of mercy. She would sit in the surgical chair and ask me to sit on her lap. She would ask other nurses to tight my body and hands to hers, and tight us both to the chair with belts. This would lock my body to hers and prevent any sudden movements as I had no anesthesia. The hope was that a doctor would finish the surgery with minimum interference on my side.
I remember pain. I felt it when the surgeon scrubbed my throat with a surgical knife, removing a piece by piece. I remember blood gashing into my throat when I tried to breath. I also remember a touch and whisper behind me, “I am with you, baby. All will be over soon. I feel your pain. I know.”
Ms. Mary died when I was 11. No one knew she had struggled with breast cancer. She never complained and always smiled when I saw her. She worked at the hospital long hours. The whole neighborhood knew Ms. Mary since she visited many of the homes of sick kids. I remember crying for hours when my mother told me that she had died. This is when I made a promise to myself that I would become a nurse one day, so other children could have their “angel” watching over them when it hurts. Thanks to the general support of the RWJF Foundation, I can do this. I feel honored to fulfill my promise and contribute to this unique profession both now and in the future.