Our Nurse of the Week is Brandy Smith, a 28-year-old who was working clinical rotations and taking nursing courses as a student at the University of Kentucky (UK) when she was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer. Determined not to let her breast cancer diagnosis hinder her progress toward becoming a nurse, Smith consulted her professors and the dean of the UK College of Nursing who all supported her decision to continue with school and her intensive treatment plan at the same time. Discussing her experience with KYForward.com, Smith said, “Some people said I should take some time off nursing school. For me, movement is medicine.”
For Smith, beating cancer and finishing school weren’t enough. She also thrives on activity and set herself a goal of finishing next year’s breast cancer awareness race as a runner and survivor. The physical activity of walking, and running when she has the energy for it, boosted Smith’s immune system to help her body through depressive treatments. She gained her positive outlook and perseverance from her mother who never let anything affect her good mood when she beat breast cancer at age 26 and battled a recurrence at age 30.
After deciding to continue with her career goals despite her diagnosis, Smith continued her clinical and classroom hours while undergoing 12 weeks of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation treatment. She also decided to undergo oncofertility treatment, which induces menopause during chemotherapy to preserve reproductive functioning, allowing Smith to keep her goal of having a family one day. With the help and support of her husband, family, and nursing class, Smith was announced cancer-free on October 5, and graduated from nursing school in December with plans to go into pediatric oncology.
Always with a positive outlook, Smith summed up her experience with this: “As much fun as I’ve had, it’s been horrible at times. But it could have been worse – I got to have milkshakes every day.” To read more about Brandy Smith’s inspiring journey to remission while keeping up with the demands of nursing school, visit here.