Growing up, a lot of factors can influence who we grow up to be and what we do. Whether it’s how our parents treat each other, how close we are with our siblings, how people respect us, the death around us, and so much more. For me, family has always been the number one influence over all that has happened in my life. Family is and will always be my reason for everything.
I was 11 years old when my grandma was first diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time I was young and dumb and truly never processed what was going on. I saw the sadness surrounding my family, but little did I know how much of an impact it was making on everyone around me. My grandma was the strong one for everyone, ironic, I know. She was always telling everyone that everything was going to be okay and that after just a few short months of radiation, she would be okay.
We went on a walk for my grandma in October 2015 to support her journey. We all got matching shirts and we walked across that finish line together like we knew we would soon when she was cancer free and just as we hoped, my grandma went back to the doctor not even a year later and was declared cancer free! We celebrated every day after with the peace of mind that she was going to be just fine.
I enjoyed the next few years with my family as much as I could with no looking back on past quandaries. We went up to our cabin, had family game nights, and made time for dinner every Friday night. We would crack jokes at one another laughing till our stomachs hurt. My family made memories that will last forever. Little did we know that in 2021 our hearts would shatter once more.
At 17 years old, once again, I got the news that my grandma’s cancer was back, and worse than before. This cancer was hormonal and was spreading fast so immediately she began chemo. As most know, chemo has numerous dreadful side effects. As time went on, my grandma spent her days growing sicker and sicker, losing hair, throwing up, and spending most of her days uncomfortable and in pain.
The pain I saw across my grandma’s face was enough to make me sick. I spent my days praying and begging God to take the pain away from her. She was one of my best friends, her face always lit up when I would walk through her front door and give her the biggest hug. We would sit on her couch for hours talking about our days and what was new. I made sure to spend time with her whenever I could and bring her some of her favorite drinks and snacks when she was in the mood for them because I never knew if it would be the last time I saw her.
As her hair began to fall out, piece by piece she lost herself. My grandma was a hair stylist for years before she retired, so as you can imagine her hair meant the world to her. We always called her our little Q-tip because she had this poofy little curly white head of hair. But as the months went on, soon she had close to none. She began wearing cute little durags to cover her biggest insecurity. It killed me that she had no idea how beautiful and inspiring she was to me, even in her lowest moments.
Months went by and she continued to fight, and fight hard. In early 2022, she kicked cancer to the curb, not for the first, but for the second time. My grandma worked hard to stay positive in one of the worst situations of her life. She inspired me in so many ways, she has no idea how much she influenced my life. Although I had always wanted to go into healthcare, I had never been set on a direct specialty. My grandma would tell me about the nurses who helped her through her chemo treatments and made light of her dark situation. The joy these nurses brought to her inspired me to pursue the specialty of oncology.
Oncology is a place where I know I can make a difference. It’s a place where I can see myself being the same light for others that so many did for my grandma. Nursing has been a passion of mine for a few years although I was never quite too sure if it was exactly what I wanted a degree in. After these past 7 years of thinking through what has inspired me to pursue a career, I finally decided that after obtaining my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Grand Canyon University, I will most definitely be headed to the oncology unit. I want to be the one who puts a smile on the face of people when they’re going through the hardest times of their life. I want to bring joy to the families as well who are struggling to see their role models become defeated. I want those patients who feel overwhelmed and hopeless to look to me to find the good in their situation. I want to use all my nursing training including CPR, medication administration, and all other knowledge to save lives and make people feel worth living.
I want to give a little hope that in the end, everything is going to be okay. I want to pray with those who need it, hug those that need that comfort, and even just sit in silence with those who need a presence. I want to provide back to others what my family had the opportunity to receive from other nurses.
Oncology nursing is just the start as well. I hope to go back to graduate school to become a Nurse Practitioner, in which I can then not only care for patients but prescribe and be one of the heads of treatment for those fighting cancer. My passion is to preserve life and be a motivator to all.