In 2001, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As the country went through a national crisis, I went through a personal one; the cancer was advanced.
I’m an Adult Health Nurse Practitioner at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and I works specifically with patients who have HIV. After my diagnosis, for the first time, I was really on the same end as my patients. I have a gift of being a nonjudgmental presence with my patients. I’m just as blessed and graced and gifted by their stories and struggles and adherence to regimes and complicated medications as I am blessed to be there for them.
Apparently, God really wanted me to continue in my work. Fifteen years after my diagnosis, I’m still here. I feel that I continue to be here everyday because of my gifts that I can share, and those which my patients share with me.
I’m aware that cancer and HIV are different— with HIV, there’s more of a stigma. But it’s still something that shakes you everyday. You get on with your life, but you still think about it everyday. The joy in life now is always journeying with people and listening to their stories.