Twenty-year-old Amanda Lee has always wanted to be a nurse. But after a life-changing diagnosis in 2012, Lee suddenly had a more personal motivation to pursue her career goals.
After seeing her primary care doctor for pain in her lower back, doctors determined Lee had a tumor that was causing internal bleeding. Lee, then 17, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, and began chemotherapy at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic right away.
“When I was first diagnosed, I loved the idea of being a nurse even more,” says Lee. “During treatment, I was able to get the real inside scoop on what being a nurse was all about.”
Lee is currently taking general studies courses at Springfield Technical Community College and will be applying to nursing school. She will finish the program in May of 2017 if treatment doesn’t put her behind. She hopes to focus on pediatric oncology nursing, with a goal of someday working in the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber.
“Working in oncology would be a good fit because I could really relate to my patients,” she says.
Since her diagnosis, Lee has participated in a clinical trial for an anti-tumor drug, and doctors at Dana-Farber also referred her to a clinical trial in Bethesda, Md. where she received immunotherapy. The doctors in this trial engineered Lee’s T-cells to attack her tumors, and Lee had a great response. Unfortunately, Lee relapsed in January 2015, but has not had any new tumor growth since.
“In the next few months I will need more treatment, but right now I am just enjoying this semester of school and focusing on my future career as a nurse,” she says.
In addition to her own cancer experience, Lee says her nurse practitioner, Annette Werger, MSN, PNP, has also motivated her to pursue a nursing career. During treatment, Lee says Werger not only cared about Lee’s health, but also how she was doing outside of the hospital.
“She wants to make sure I am having a ‘normal’ life through everything,” she says. “She is more like a friend than a nurse and I hope to emulate that with my future patients.”