When I was young I had always wanted to work with animals, that is, until my grandfather, whom I was very close too, suddenly became ill. I wanted to understand what was happening to him and no one, including the health care team said very much. The death of my grandfather led me down a different path of becoming a nurse which I thank him for every day. I see a part of my grandfather in every patient I help and a part of me in every caregiver just wanting to understand what is happening to the one they love.
I have been working in oncology since 1989. My first year was on a Medical Surgical Unit at Jersey Shore Medical Center. I did not choose oncology but rather it chose me when a good opportunity came to me in 1989. I have worked on the inpatient side, both day and night and the Ambulatory Oncology Unit at Ocean Medical Center in Brick. I have also worked for oncology physician offices mixing and administering chemotherapy, triaging, and providing the support to my patients and their loved ones.
In August 2011, I transferred to Southern Ocean Medical Center in a new role as Oncology Nurse Navigator. My role is to assist and support anyone with a cancer diagnosis including their family and loved ones. Two months after starting in this role, my mother who was a vibrant soul suddenly was intubated in CCU and diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. In October 2013, my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had to overcome injuries from a farm tractor accident before he could seek treatment. I navigated both my parents through their journey of cancer both near and far. Although they did not have a happy ending of cure, they were provided time with good quality of life and were able to share in so many celebrations. I did not ask for either of those cancer journeys but was proud to be a part of it as that was their last lessons to me, “Seeing and Living Cancer through their Eyes” and I was so grateful to be a part of their care.
I participate in many community events to help raise awareness and money for a variety of organizations including David’s Dream and Believe which is a foundation very close to my heart. I see the impact this organization has on each of my patients as they share their relief with the help and support David provides. I saw the relief in my fathers’ eyes as he too was intubated in CCU as I told him that David paid some of his bills. That assistance provided my sister and me some time to focus on my father’s health as well as being able to come up with a plan B as he had a farm with animals and bills that we were not used to having. My two girls, Autumn Rose and Angelie Elisabeth, both are Generation Dreamers and love to make cards for patients and help in fundraising events. My husband Poch is also a supporter and always willing to lend a helping hand. Together we have six children. Spending time together and helping others is very important to us all.