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What Inspired Me to Become a Nurse?

On March 19, Indianapolis accelerated nursing program student Shelly Brosseau learned that an essay she wrote about her path to nursing won her a scholarship from the Indianapolis Star. The essay contest was held in conjunction with the Star’s eleventh annual Salute to Nurses event. Here is Shelly’s essay.

Shelly Brosseau profile picture

What inspired me to become a nurse?

Cancer. There are so many special nurses with countless talents that influenced my decision, but cancer is really where this student’s nursing path began.

We received the initial call with the results of my husband Cameron’s tests on April Fool’s Day of 2010, which was ironic as we spent the next six months wishing the call was some horrible joke.

After meeting with the oncologist for confirmation and diagnosis, end-stage pancreatic cancer, Cam and I walked out clinging to each other. Stupefied and numb with the words, “Get your things in order, this is going to take your life.” Surreal and hazy thoughts filled our minds as we walked down the hall to meet with the nurses who would handle his care.

From the beginning it was evident these nurses weren’t there just to treat a disease. They were there to treat my husband. In Cam they saw not a diagnosis, but a man, a husband, a father, son, brother and friend. They saw a brave and amazing person.

Compassion, wisdom, skill, strength, support, hugs and tears, all were shared generously and so started my journey, my aspiring to be for others what these beautiful people had been for us.

Through the battle that was to be the last six months of my husband’s time with us, our lives expanded to include nurses from so many disciplines: oncology, radiology, emergency, operating room, anesthesia, home health, hospice, and many more.

Within each we found answers, advocates, support, and sincere care for our fight. Cancer is a battle, a war that is fought with human emotion as much as with chemotherapy or radiation. We were blessed with nurses that not only understood the battle, but were equipped with an arsenal of skills and a fearless, tireless dedication. They faced the battle with us at every step.

With every step, I became more convinced that I too, would one day be the nurse that provided this care to another family in need. You see, for several years before Cam’s battle, we had talked about me going back to school to become a nurse. We had decided when our children were both in school all day I would begin that journey. When cancer laid siege on our lives and I found myself surrounded by these special nurses, the message was clear. Nursing was what I was meant to do.

My husband wanted the time he had left with us to be spent with family and in our home.

I was going to do whatever it took to ensure his wishes were granted. Because of the nurses I was able to make that happen.

I was patiently educated and trained to care for various drains, wound and incision dressing, oxygen, administering meds, pain control, nutrition, mobility, and more.

The nurses shared countless skills which enabled me to be an active part of his care team. The emotional need to care for my husband was paralleled by his feelings of comfort in my care. I will always owe a great debt of gratitude for that gift made possible by our nurses and the wisdom and empathy so evident in their care.

My husband told me I was his favorite nurse, and I teased that he was just saying that so I would be gentle with his next shot. We laughed a lot as I learned new skills and our loving, patient nurses would guide me through every detail I asked of them. One day near the end of our war, my husband woke while I changed a dressing on a drain in his chest. He placed his hand on my wrist and said, “You really will be an amazing nurse someday,” and he fell back to sleep, smiling at me.

Our nurses encouraged me to join the profession, always ready to talk with me and share wisdom and support. I chose Marian University for St.Vincent Health, and their accelerated BSN program.

I want to be that amazing nurse. I want to give others what was so generously given to us, care that cannot always cure but that always matters, always makes a difference.

I want to share in the dedication to care for others as part of a cancer-care team. Cancer took so much away from my family. Through that loss has grown a strength and determination to fight back, to advocate for brave patients in their own wars now.

Sincerely,

Mychelle “Shelly” Brosseau
Class of December 2013

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