Revisiting the Road Not Taken: Integrating Palliative Care Into Oncology Nursing

Marie Bakitas Whedon

palliative care
CJON 2002, 6(1), 27-33. DOI: 10.1188/02.CJON.27-33

Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” presents a metaphor for decision making in life (Lathem, 1969). When one comes to a crossroad, the path he or she chooses has major implications for both the traveler and the path itself. I was reminded of Frost’s work several times in the last few years as I walked an oncology career path focused increasingly on pain and symptom management and quality of life. The more familiar one I had followed to that point—one focused on caring for patients undergoing bone marrow transplant and other investigative anticancer treatments—seemed more distant. Eventually, I realized that in focusing on palliative care, I had made a philosophical shift in my approach to patients. Early on I thought, I’d “keep the first for another day.” But now I realize I could never return to my previous path.

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