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The hospice nurse

Nurse Emily Schmidt

Working long hours, taking care of patients and handling paperwork are all part of a normal day for a nurse. Add a round of chemotherapy at the end of your shift, and you have some idea of what Emily Schmidt faces every day.

At just 33 years old, Emily—wife, mother and nurse—was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy to remove the cancer and is currently undergoing 59 weeks of chemotherapy, to be followed by radiation therapy. Most people would have taken some time to focus on recovery, but Emily is determined to continue her work.

When Emily graduated from nursing school in May 2010, she was excited to start her career as an RN. As a new graduate, Emily took an administrative position at the local hospital, with the goal of working toward a nursing position. During this time, Emily was under COBRA coverage. That was when she found a lump in her breast.

When the hospital cut her back to part-time, removing her insurance options, Emily decided to explore the other career options she had available to her. The more she learned about hospice care, the more Emily wanted to dive right in. As Emily was currently facing the physical and emotional struggle of coping with cancer, her loved ones were worried about the added stress a hospice position might bring, but Emily was determined.

She began her work with a home hospice company and was inspired. Now she spends her days helping those in hospice who need her most. As Emily’s sister-in-law Becky explains, the work Emily does is an amazing personal choice. “Emily is one of the most caring and compassionate individuals I know, and she takes pride in her work,” Becky said. “I questioned her choice in becoming a hospice nurse during such a terrifying time personally, but she feels it gives her strength and courage to continue her fight. She thinks it helps her relate to her patients on a more personal level and makes her a better nurse.”

With Emily’s mounting medical bills, loved ones were seeking a way to help her, her husband and her three-year-old daughter the same way Emily has helped others. They turned to GiveForward, a site that allows friends and family to set up a fundraising page for a loved one facing a serious medical condition. They started a GiveForward fundraising page for Team Emily, and within six weeks they had raised more than half of their $10,000 goal to help cover Emily’s out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Since January, dozens of loved ones have visited the site to check on Emily’s progress, lend financial support and leave her notes of encouragement. But of course, in true Emily fashion, she is making sure that others are receiving help as well. A special benefit, being held on April 9th, will donate 20% of proceeds to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national education and support organization for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

As a team member of GiveForward, it is an honor to work with someone like Emily and her family. We work with nurses every day and are always inspired by their dedication. It takes an uncommon strength to be a nurse, and Emily is a perfect example of that. We’re big huggers here at GiveForward, so in honor of that tradition, we want to send a big hug to Emily, her sister-in-law Becky (who organized and manages the GiveForward page) and all of Team Emily. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a Team to keep up with a nurse. Big hugs all around.

The daughter of an ovarian cancer survivor, Cate Conroy loves working at GiveForward, a place that allows her to help families who are in the same place she was a few years ago. Now, when she’s not tweeting, blogging or marketing on behalf of GiveForward, she can be found training for her next marathon with her dog, Teddy, or attempting to bake a new gluten-free treat (which she then forces everyone in the GiveForward office to taste-test).

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Cate Conroy

The daughter of an ovarian cancer survivor, Cate Conroy loves working at GiveForward, a place that allows her to help families who are in the same place she was a few years ago. Now, when she’s not tweeting, blogging or marketing on behalf of GiveForward, she can be found training for her next marathon with her dog, Teddy, or attempting to bake a new gluten-free treat (which she then forces everyone in the GiveForward office to taste-test).
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3 Responses to The hospice nurse

  1. Victoria Sallese

    I knew a nurse practioner who worked through her therapy, until about 3 weeks before she did pass on. She was noticeably tired and cut down to half days, but she felt the need to keep on going. She was realistic about her diagnosis, at least when she talked to me. I will not forget her courage.

  2. Stacy

    Wow, reading Emily’s story brought tears to my eyes. The exact same thing happened to my mother 15 yrs ago. She too was a RN and was dx with bilateral metastaic breast cancer and continued to work on days she received chemotherapy and radiation. She never stopped , till 2 weeks prior to taking a new job with God in heaven as a guardian angel to us. god bless you Emily! Stay strong, and good luck!

  3. deanna bean

    Thumbs up to an incredible lady.
    More people will read your story and
    Will be inspried.

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