First, let me say that I am thrilled to have been accepted into the nursing program. It has been a long time coming for me. I first applied to the program in 2000 and was accepted.
When I received my letter, I was beyond excited, however, I had two small children at home, I was a single mom working nights to be with the kids during the day. I was recovering from treatment for ovarian cancer and I passed on the opportunity. At the time, I had numerous credits that would have transferred. I had no idea that child care was available on campus and my goal seemed temporarily out of reach.
I had developed a passion for expectant moms and birthing women prior to the birth of my own daughter. My own pregnancy greatly heightened this passion and I began completing trainings to become a doula, a monitrice and then a lay-support midwife. I read voraciously and felt like I couldn’t get enough. I became a legislative advocate for the rights of women and for breastfeeding, both public and private. I felt like brining my own child into the world had rebirthed me, had given me a cause to have a voice, and had made me love and appreciate my body in ways that I never had before.
At the time, I owned a restaurant and coffeehouse in Bowling Green, Ohio which my husband and I sold in 1997 after the birth of our son to move to Ithaca. Once in town I aspired to become active in the birth community, but my husband and I separated within 6 months, I went to live with the kids and a family whom I barely knew with no car, no job, no money, and very little self-esteem left. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
During and after treatment, I was amazed at the work of some of the nurses in surgery and oncology. I knew who would be kind, who would laugh at my discomfort-inspired jokes, and who just wanted to knock out their hours. I could tell who was there because they loved people and loved nursing, and who was there for a job. The nurses who were filled with compassion, kindness, and caring in the face of a difficult job kept the flame on nursing alive in me.
Years later, after a subsequent diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, a catastrophic spinal injury and myriad late effects; my kids are now teenagers and I am moving toward my dreams and goals of working as a nurse. In the past 15 years, I have become a staunch patient and legislative advocate. I have a passion for the young adult (AYA) cancer community and speak nationally and internationally about the special needs of AYA’s living with a cancer diagnosis. I wish to develop the skills needed to be able to continue to serve my community in the most effective way possible. I think that as a nurse, I have more to contribute to changing the conversation around cancer, cancer research, legislative policy, and community as well as global health. I look forward to taking time to go abroad and work with populations who are disadvantaged due to lack of knowledge, lack access to appropriate health care/diagnosis/treatment/medications, cultural norms which prevent care and place an unbearable burden of stigma on individuals and families who are ill. In my role as a nurse, I wish to serve and I look forward to the opportunities and the challenges which lie ahead and the recognition of self which changes and grows with every new challenge. I am honored and humbled to be a part of the nursing community.