Nursing Blogs

Nurse Overcomes Cancer to Get Her Degree


Nicole David was never one to take “no” for an answer. She faced a lot of obstacles en route to earning her nursing degree from Texas Woman’s University, but nevertheless she persisted.

David knew she wanted to be a nurse since childhood. Her mother worked in healthcare for decades, giving David a front-row view to the ins and outs of the industry and what it felt like to take care of people for a living.

“I saw how dedicated my mom was to caring for people and how happy it made her,” David recalled. “Because of that, I knew I wanted to work in health care.”

She initially wanted to pursue a career in dentistry after taking a health, science, and technology course during her senior year of high school. David went on to graduate college, but she didn’t have the grades to get into dentistry school. She was devastated when she received the rejection notice, but it didn’t stop her from chasing her dream.

The news came at a particularly painful time for David. “I went to college and dealt with some really hard things, which is why my grades suffered,” David explained. Her mother, the person who inspired her healthcare journey, passed away during her freshman year of college.

That’s when David decided to switch course and pursue nursing instead, so she could follow in her mother’s footsteps.

But she didn’t have the grades to get into nursing school either.

David spent the next several years retaking college classes at a local community college to improve her grades. She also worked as a high school biology teacher to pay the bills.

Seven years after her initial rejection, David reapplied to nursing school, but this time she got the response she was looking for.

She got accepted to not just one nursing program, but several.

David ultimately chose to attend Texas Woman’s University because of the program’s reputation and nursing certification exam (NCLEX) pass rate.

But she encountered another setback once she entered the program. She was diagnosed with breast cancer during her second semester of classes. Luckily, the doctors caught it early. David was determined to earn her degree on time, so she decided to continue taking classes while receiving treatment.

“Nursing is really what was giving me hope,” David said. “The idea that this degree was going to allow me to pursue the career I’ve been wanting for so long made me not want to stop.”

She is set to graduate from TWU this summer, but the best part is that she will be graduating cancer free. During the ceremony, David’s stepmother, who is also a nurse, will pin David with her mother’s nursing pin. She plans on working in the pediatric ICU at a local hospital this fall.

It took her nearly a decade to accomplish her goal of graduating from nursing school, but the experiences taught her a lot about herself and her ability to persevere in the face of tragedy.

“I don’t have words to explain it,” she said, recalling her journey. “This all kind of feels like a dream.”

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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