I’ve always loved animals and knew from a young age that I wanted a career in veterinary medicine. While oncology always interested me, I never anticipated I would be lucky enough to work at one of the best veterinary cancer facilities in the world.
I joined the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University as an oncology nurse in August 2012 and it is the best decision I’ve ever made. I spend my days providing care and comfort to seriously ill patients while learning about, and helping in the fight against, an incredibly devastating disease that directly or indirectly affects us all.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, I moved to Athens, Ga., shortly after high school where I began a two-year training program to become a Registered Veterinary Technician. While completing my training, I worked in a small animal private practice before joining the staff of the Small Animal Critical Care Department at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where I spent four years after graduation. Being an emergency and critical care technician is physically and emotionally challenging work, characterized by long, irregular hours and many heartbreaking cases. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Through the demands of the job, I greatly expanded my medical knowledge, honed my nursing skills, and increased my self-confidence as a veterinary medical professional.
My husband, who shares my passion for oncology, received his DVM from the University of Georgia. He was accepted at Colorado State University for a residency/Ph.D. program in tumor immunology, so in June of 2011, we packed up our four cats, two dogs and two snakes and made the three day journey by car from Georgia to Colorado. We immediately felt at home in Big Sky country and can’t imagine a better place to live.
Unfortunately, most people have experienced cancer in some way, whether through a family member, friend, or a personal struggle. My experience came through my father-in-law, who battled stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of his tongue and tonsils. It took many months of intensive chemotherapy, radiation and nursing care before he was back on his feet. He is one of the strongest people I know. More than six years later he is still in remission, showing the same positive attitude, strength and fearlessness that got him through that incredibly difficult time. He always said it was the excellent care he received from his doctors and nurses that made all the difference.
As an FACC oncology nurse, I have the opportunity to help make such a difference every day. It is recalling my father-in-law’s tribute to his oncology team that encourages me to devote myself to delivering the highest quality care possible to each and every patient so that, when the family leaves our hospital, they can say that our care and concern “made all the difference” in their cancer journey.