Elizabeth Sorongon Castor, RN
This is the first in a series of interviews with nurses connected to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) to share insights, knowledge and expertise about career opportunities, growth and development. Today we hear from Elizabeth Sorongon Castor.
Since she migrated from Manila, the Philippines in 2003, Elizabeth has been a Registered Staff Nurse and Clinical Instructor for the past four decades. In the last 20 years, she focused on oncology (surgical, complex malignant hematology). Presently, she is at Sheridan College as a classroom/clinical instructor, assigned in Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga - Oncology/Palliative Department.
What stage of your nursing career are you in?
Which chapter do you belong to?
What made you decide to choose nursing as a career path?
My love and empathy for the injured, vulnerable population and to care for those who are hurting in any way motivated me to pursue the nursing profession. I have had a strong desire since high school to serve given that strength and ability to do small or great tasks in working for the overall good of the individual. Likewise, my grandmother who was a midwife is a big factor towards my chosen career; being called anytime especially during nighttime ... and lo and behold a child is born. My grandmother’s face looked vibrant and radiant every time she came home with a joyful heart. I also believe that nursing is my vocation. It is a calling to serve the sick that is worthy and requiring dedication, involves specialized education and training. I was telling myself positively since I started this program that I am destined to become a nurse and I worked hard.
What made you choose your specialty in nursing?
Oncology/Palliative nursing and Clinical Teaching. Teaching is a gift having the strength or ability to study and learn primarily to bring understanding and depth of caring, basic principles and becoming efficient and competent nurses. I believe that these student nurses now, will take care of us when we grow old, so I am dedicated to train them well, my love in teaching made it productive to them, making me happy to be part of their lives as well as nursing growth. The oncology field made me stronger and a better person. I developed that ability to strengthen, comfort or urge others to action through the written or spoken words of hope and truth. I understand fully what it’s like to live with cancer, knowing the fear that it may be spreading. How hard it is to keep one’s integrity as a human being and to live your life.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Patients have taught me that we have an amazing amount of control over our dying. “The will to survive.” One patient said, “Death is not the worst thing. Life without love is far worst.’’
I have witnessed many deaths in the unit. It is peaceful, pain-free letting go, in which no time spent dying because these people learned to love fully. The family members must share their love and grief, the dying patient must receive their love and support and the knowledge that the loved ones will survive because they have been loved significantly receiving unconditional love.
Today I see that even death is a form of healing. It is my fervent hope that by showing adults how the mind and spirit can heal the body and make life worthwhile. The collaboration of the spiritual care practitioner in this unit made these patients comfortable, ready and joyful.
Do you belong to any RNAO interest groups? If so, which ones and why?
I belonged to the Retired Nurses Interest Group. I have been a Registered Nurse for decades, working in the different fields of nursing and assumed different positions; the last two decades were dedicated serving patients in surgical oncology then in complex malignant hematology. I love my nursing profession so much that nothing can stop me from practicing it. I focused now on the academia to educate young student nurses; I make myself available and useful in the acute care setting as in the Oncology/Palliative unit.
I don’t let age limit my future growth as a human being. This is my message to the retired nurses that we can still be capable of performing comprehensive nursing care and functions with more knowledge and skills acquired during those decades. We must be a model to the young nurses that we are dedicated to our nursing profession ... service with love matters most.
What advice would you offer a new nurse just beginning their career?
Self awareness, values and virtues are very important in this profession in order to succeed. The basic principle that every nurse should uphold till the end is putting love in all aspects of care regardless of race, culture or background. Serving and taking care to the least of our brothers and sisters without complaint gives fulfillment of purpose and meaning to our lives.
Nursing is denying ourselves for the highest goal that they will be treated and be able to go back to their families and society holistically. We serve with our whole being: This is also serving God.
I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to help others; giving me peace of mind and a heartfelt satisfaction that a miracle happened to patients and to me.
Life is full of challenges, use them and proceed on your new path. Let us choose love and life.
Learn more about RNAO and its members.