Celebrating Survivors: How One Former Nurse Beat Breast Cancer
Nancy Sedwitz had been working as an RN for 20 years when she decided she needed a new challenge in her life. She took a leap of faith and started a new career as a clinical manager for AMN Healthcare.
Nancy supports up to 500 travel nurses at any given time, giving them advice, guidance and support. She helps them solve problems, overcome challenges and improve their performance so they can deliver the highest standard of care. "I enjoy coaching nurses while they're on their assignment," she said. "For me, the most rewarding thing is when the nurses say thank you for listening, caring and understanding."
But in 2004, Nancy was suddenly faced with her own personal struggle. During a routine self-examination, she discovered a lump in her breast, which turned out to be cancerous. After helping so many nurses overcome their challenges, somehow she had to find a way to weather her own storm. “I made the decision to keep working," she said. "Work helped give me focus so that the cancer didn’t take over my world. I was able to put my energy into helping other people solve my problems and achieve their goals like I always had, and that helped us all immensely. Fortunately, the support I had at work was tremendous. The company was flexible throughout my treatments and my coworkers were always by my side, providing me with emotional support. This helped keep me positive while I was going through treatment.”
Nancy underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to fight the cancer and she is elated to be celebrating 11 years cancer free this Sunday - on her mother’s 86th birthday.
“The experience has been life changing,” she said. “My family and I appreciate every day together and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back.”
Since her recovery, Nancy has participated in both the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that AMN sponsors in San Diego and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, 60-Mile walk. She and her coworkers are already gearing up for this year’s race in San Diego, which takes place on November 3.
After giving so much in her personal life and her career, Nancy still has a piece of advice to offer men and women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month
“As nurses, we are really good at giving advice, but not always taking it. I now tell male and female nurses to conduct a monthly self-examination of their breasts, no matter how old they are. I’d had a mammogram just nine months before I discovered a lump in my breast. If I had waited until my next mammogram, who knows what would have happened. Thanks to my monthly exam, the outcome for me was positive."
For more inspirational survivor stories, read: The Breast Cancer Journey: Nurse and Patient Perspectives