St. Jude has always been a large part of my life. My dad is director of the Division of Leukemia/Lymphoma there and my mom was employed as a pediatric oncology nurse before having children. I even followed my parent’s desire to help children inflicted with cancer and became a pediatric oncology nurse. You can study cancer, research cancer and treat others with cancer, but the word takes on an entirely different meaning when you are diagnosed with cancer.
When I was diagnosed, I had just completed orientation at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. When the doctor in Florida told me that I might have Hodgkin Lymphoma, he gave me his regards and an informational packet. I knew immediately that I needed to come home to St. Jude for the biopsy. At the time, I dreaded the possibility of getting stuck at home when I was just starting my career in Florida. When we received the results, I wasn’t scared. It was “just a little bit of cancer” which only required treatment for six months. My family, on the other hand, was devastated. Everyone treated me like I was sick. I still didn’t feel like I had cancer. I looked in the mirror, and I just looked like myself.
One night after receiving chemo, I was in the shower and noticed clumps of hair flowing into the drain. When I was diagnosed, I had decided that once my hair started falling out, I would shave my head. My mother told me not to look in the mirror. I ignored her. That’s when it hit me. I burst into tears. I looked like a different person. I had cancer, and now, the whole world could see. Suddenly, I wasn’t an oncology nurse but an oncology patient.
I am so fortunate I am receiving my treatment at St. Jude, the hospital that brought my parents to Memphis in the first place. The physicians and nurses are the kindest people I have ever been around and I plan to emulate them when I return to Florida to continue my career as a pediatric oncology nurse. I am so grateful to be at such an outstanding hospital with such amazing people. Fortunately, I have a wonderful support system of friends and family to help me through this difficult time, many of whom have joined Team Julia Rubnitz. Please donate to my team so that we can help St. Jude continue to thrive.