May 29, 2013 — Nothing Could Stop Her, Not Even Cancer
For anyone who thinks it’s impossible to juggle more than two things at a time, you’d think again after meeting Sarah Stewart. Sarah just graduated from FM’s Nursing program – which is tough enough all on its own with courses such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology, to name a few. Combine these rigorous courses with working, raising five children, and being diagnosed with breast cancer, it makes earning a degree sound almost impossible. However, for Sarah, it wasn’t.
After working in the electronics field for nearly 20 years, the company Sarah worked for closed. She was left a displaced worker and at the time, was a single mom with four daughters. She had two options: she could take a similar position at a much lower pay or go to college with financial assistance through Workforce Solutions. She chose the latter.
Within one year, Sarah earned a Medical Assistant Certificate. Her new goal was to continue her education to earn her R.N. licensure; however, she still was in need of financial support. Luckily, the timing was right for Sarah as FM had just received the HEALTH grant, a grant which would provide a free education in certain healthcare fields to an unemployed/incumbent worker. Sarah applied for the grant and was given this opportunity.
Sarah spent the summer of 2010 attending the Pre-RN program with plans of applying for the Nursing program the following fall. Things were coming together for Sarah until she hit a bump in the road; she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hearing such news would be devastating to most, which it was at first to Sarah. Thoughts of death and leaving her five children behind raced through her head. Before she could bring herself down with these thoughts, she changed her mind set. “I don’t have time for cancer,” was Sarah’s new thought. She had a family, her loving fiancé Vinny, and plans to become a R.N., and nothing was about to hold her back, not even cancer.
Sarah went through chemotherapy, 11 surgeries, and complete, physical exhaustion, but never missed a beat of her life or a full day of class. “There was one day when Vinny drove me to class and I wasn’t feeling well,” says Sarah. “I tried to get through the class but couldn’t. I called Vinny. He was in the college parking lot waiting for my call. He knew I would call. He didn’t try to stop me from coming to class, but he was there for me. That was the only day during my diagnosis that I missed class.”
Sarah’s last chemotherapy treatment was in February 2011; the same semester she learned she had been accepted to the Nursing program to begin that fall.
When asked how she managed to accomplish all that she did, Sarah says, “I didn’t want to be Sarah with cancer, I wanted to be Sarah the R.N. It would have been easy to feel sorry for myself, but what good would that do? I have this wonderful opportunity ahead of me, my five beautiful daughters, and an amazingly supportive fiancé. With the right attitude, the support of loving friends and family, and the remarkable FM faculty, anything is possible.”
Sarah graduated with the Class of 2013 and once she passes the N-CLEX, she will be a RN with Amsterdam Family Practice.
Amy Radik is Coordinator of PR & Marketing at FM.