She was able to beat cancer twice, now she’s part of the team that helped her do it.
It was a dream come true for 24-year-old, two-time childhood cancer survivor Montana Brown from Atlanta. Earlier this week, Montana started working as a staff nurse at AFLAC Cancer Center. She is not just any new nurse at the AFLAC Cancer Center though, because she’s also a former patient there.
She was able to battle with and beat cancer twice when she was young. Now, she’s part of the team that helped her do it. Isn’t it amazing?
Here’s her story:
When she was just 2 years old, Montana was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer of the connective tissue. She then underwent chemotherapy at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Cancer Center. All the while, she said, her parents tried to help her live a normal life, watching movies while she was in the hospital.
By the time Montana reached high school, she had been actively participating in gymnastics and cheerleading for years. But by the end of her freshman year, the then 15-year old Montana and her family got shocking news: she had cancer again. She underwent chemotherapy at CHOA again.
“I had just tried out for my high school cheerleading team,” Montana said. “I actually ran a mile while I had cancer and had no idea. … There weren’t symptoms but my mom and dad could tell that something was different about me and they knew that something was a little off.”
She again underwent chemotherapy and radiation and went to the hospital every week for the treatment. What’s worse, she also learned from doctors that she’d have to stop gymnastics and cheerleading.
Even if Montana had a hard time during those years, what somehow eased the pain was the genuine care of the nurses and staff.
“The nurses here, as great as they were when I was 2 — from what my mom says — they were extremely loving and caring and compassionate. And, just the love they showed me and my family in our time of need just really helped me,” she said. “It helped me want to become as kind and as caring and as compassionate as they were for me.”
According to Montana, it was during those encounters she had as a toddler and then years later as a high school student that pushed her to decide nursing was her calling.
“[In nursing school,] I would always say, ‘I’m only going to nursing school to do pediatric oncology, like I don’t want to do anything else. I don’t want to work anywhere else. I’m going to school strictly to do pediatric oncology.’ And so it’s kind of crazy how full circle it’s come so far.”
“I really wanted to be that person where when I said, ‘Hey, I totally understand. This is where I was. This is where I am now.’ That me and my patients would form a bond,” she said. “I’m not walking through the doors as a patient anymore. I am walking through as a staff member.”
And her dream came true. Now, working there as a staff nurse, Brown said, she hopes to be a source of hope and inspiration for children battling cancer at the AFLAC Cancer Center.
Isn’t she amazing?
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