Diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer, nurse Jess Wuebker is playing the waiting game. “It’s considered a cancer precursor. It puts me at a high risk of developing a more invasive form down the road, so I have to be seen every six months.”
The frequent mammograms and breast MRIs were one thing, but what frustrated Wuebker most about her diagnosis was a feeling of powerlessness. “I felt my power had been completely stripped away,” she says.
She knew other women were going through the same thing and worse, and she was determined to do something about it. As a nurse, she understands that empathy can get lost. “It’s easy to get caught up in the science and physical sides (of cancer), and sometimes we ignore the emotional aspect. We get so busy in the day-to-day of nursing that sometimes we forget.”
She decided to start by putting together an all-nurse team for the Dayton, Ohio Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. “These are the people on the frontlines of helping women in this situation,” she says about her team, “and it gets them involved in a different way.”
Nurses of Grace just isn’t a team of walkers. It’s also an online support group where nurses can share their struggles, build community, and find purpose in their career. “Since I was 14 years old, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. That was never a question for me. But once I became one, I was surprised to feel myself kind of floundering.”
Again, Wuebker knew she wasn’t the only one. “There are a lot of nurses who feel it either wasn’t what they expected, or they’re struggling to find their place.” Tapping into that passion, she felt, allowed her to give herself fully to her calling as a nurse, and it started by finding out where she belonged.
“When you’re helping other people, sometimes it leads to more self-discovery,” she notes. “Whether you’re supporting nurses or people with cancer, it’s great to look at everything in a holistic way.”