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Diagnosed with breast cancer while on assignment, Aya traveler finds family away from home

October 7, 2021 | Clinician Stories

When medical assistant, Raunada, began her first travel assignment, she never expected it to be a life-altering experience. Halfway through her contract, Raunada was offered an extension and she happily excepted. “I enjoyed the work, and my coworkers were great. Everything was running smoothly, so I decided to extend.”

Soon after accepting the extension, however, she discovered a knot in her left breast. “At work the next day I talked to a nurse practitioner and they worked with me to set up a mammogram and an ultrasound within 24 hours,” she recalls. “I got a biopsy done the following week and the day after, I got the call that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

After finding out about her diagnosis, Raunada had a decision to make; stay at her facility to continue working while receiving treatment or go home to Louisiana to be with family.

“I spent two weeks crying, but even though it was scary, I just knew God had me at the right place at the right time,” she explains. “I didn’t want to go home and not be able to find work and my supervisor said the facility would be flexible with my schedule to allow me to work while receiving my treatments.”

Support from core staff colleagues

From the start of her diagnosis, Raunada felt an outpouring of love from her colleagues. Staff members of all levels at the facility showed up to give her encouragement and help in any way they could.

“I had coworkers from top to bottom, nurse practitioners, PAs, providers, all sending messages or checking in on me during treatments. One of my coworkers would bring me breakfast to every treatment and a coloring book or something to pass the time. It’s been a team effort here and I don’t know what I would have done without this group that I have. It felt like family making sure I was okay and keeping me company,” Raunada says.

One coworker who was by Raunada’s side from the beginning was Kristen, a staff nurse turned friend she affectionately nicknamed “K.”

“K and I have spent a lot of time together along this journey. I met her early on in the break room and we really hit it off. When I got diagnosed, I knew I wanted to ask her to be my oncology nurse,” Raunada shared. “Having her there for my infusions, I could always ask her questions if there was anything I was concerned or hesitant about. She’s my go-to person and I’m so grateful to have had her there with me. I know our friendship will continue even after I leave the facility.”

Raunada’s first travel assignment had many ups and downs, but she’s grateful for her journey and continues to have a positive attitude. “I don’t have bad days. Every day is a good day, some days are just better than others,” she says. “I don’t cry about cancer anymore; I cry because of what people do that they don’t have to. I cry because of all the love and support that’s been shown to me.”

Raunada’s thankful for the support of her medical team and the lasting friendships she’s made with her colleagues and fellow patients. She’s nearly done with her treatment and will soon be leaving her current facility to head to her next assignment.

“I’ll be heading to Portland, Oregon, and I’m looking forward to exploring a new location!”

Want to build your own lasting friendships while making a difference at hospitals in need? Browse our open travel nurse jobs today!

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