Full Circle

Treated at Children’s of Alabama for cancer when she was 16, Courtney Alvis is now a nurse at on the Hematology-Oncology (Cancer) unit at Children’s, the same place where she received treatment as a teenager.

I am 25 now and I have been working for two years as an RN at Children’s, working with cancer and blood disorders patients.

It is very fulfilling, and very hard at times. I think as a patient I didn’t see the background of nursing trying to juggle all the sick kids and all these different needs.

It’s definitely different being on the nurse’s side of things versus just what I thought as a patient.

I love what I do. I love hanging out with the kids, and you know giving them little helpful hints and tips from my knowledge of life as a patient.

I was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 when I was 16-years-old. I immediately had to stop school.

I first realized something was wrong with me because I got winded so easily. At first it was only when I like exerted myself, as time went on just talking would get me out of breath.

My mom immediately knew something was wrong. Within a week we had an appointment with her doctor because my pediatrician could not see me until a few days later. They did a chest x-ray and they saw that my right lung had collapsed. At first they were just thinking they could re-inflate the lung. But then after blood work, they discovered it was lymphoma.

I had just turned 16. I had my new found independence of driving, going to do what I wanted to do. Instead of driving around town, I immediately started treatment.

I was very, very sick. I got to spend a lot of time with my nurses and they became basically my friends. I hung out with them and I talked to them since I couldn’t go to school or hang out with friends or anything like that. They filled that void for me.

Before I got sick, I never thought of being a nurse.

Now I want nothing more than to be that person that my patients look up to, the way that I looked up to my nurses. It’s so very rewarding because now I work with some of the same nurses that took care of me as a kid.

This is what I plan on doing hopefully for as long as I can. I would love to see some of my former patients come back and become nurses–just the whole full-circle thing.

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