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Nurse at Mass General Hospital battles cancer while providing resources and hope to patients

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Nurse at Mass General Hospital battles cancer while providing resources and hope to patients

Karleen was in her early 30s when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Within months of her diagnoses, several of her colleagues were also diagnosed with breast cancer, all under the age of 35.


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>> IT WAS THE HARDEST THING. SHAYNA: HER STORY IS INCREDIBLE. ONE LACED WITH SAD IRONY, BUT ALSO THE SPIRIT OF A FIGHTER. >> IN 1991, IS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. I HAD JUST TURNED 30. BOTH OF MY CHILDREN WERE JUST ENTERING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. ALL OF THE SUDDEN, THE BRAKES WERE HALTED. SHAYNA: AT THE TIME, SHE WORKED AS A NURSE AT UMASS MEDICAL CENTER IN WHAT CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AS CRUEL COINCIDENCE, SHE WOULD NOT BE ALONE IN HER BATTLE. WITHIN MONTHS, SEVERAL OF HER FELLOW NURSES ALL UNDER THE AGE OF 35 WERE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. >> WE WORKED TOGETHER IN SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER THROUGH OUR ILLNESS. ONLY — UNFORTUNATELY, I WAS THE ONLY ONE TO SURVIVE. SHAYNA: NOW ON A MISSION FOR THOSE WHO WALKED WITH HER. >> FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE LESS FORTUNATE, I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO GO OUT THE GATE AND DO SOMETHING FOR THEM. I ESTABLISHED THE FIRST STATE WIDE BREAST-CANCER RESOURCE GUIDE IN THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS. SHAYNA: PROVIDING INFORMATION WELL BEFORE THE INTERNET MADE THINGS EASIER. SHE WOULD GO ON TO WORK IN NURSING RESEARCH, EVENTUALLY FINDING HER WAY TO MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL AS THE NURSE MANAGER OF REST ONCOLOGY RESEARCH. AFTER NEARLY 15 YEARS IN REMISSION, IN 2005, A REGULAR SCHEDULED MAMMOGRAM BROUGHT CRUSHING NEWS. >> MY MAMMOGRAM SHOWED A VERY SMALL LEGION. I LOCKED MYSELF IN THE BEDROOM CLOSET AND JUST CRIED. I LIKE TO PUT IT IN A BOX AND PUT IT AWAY AND THEN PICK UP AND SAY WE’VE GOT TO FIGHT THIS. WE’VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO. SHAYNA: SHE SAW HER DIAGNOSIS WITH THE INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE AS A PROFESSIONAL AND A PATIENT AS ANOTHER CHANCE TO DO MORE. >> WE CREATED THE BREAST CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION. ASK WHEN A PATIENT IS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER, THERE ARE ALSO OTHER EXPENSIVE INSURANCE DOESN’T COVER. THEY MIGHT NEED A WIG OR A SLEEVE OR MEALS THEY CAN’T AFFORD. WE GOT TOGETHER WITH A GROUP OF ONCOLOGY NURSES AND STARTED THE CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION. SHAYNA: SHE FOUNDED THE FOUNDATION, A NONPROFIT THAT AMONG OTHERS, GIVES FREE TESTING FOR PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES. SHE CREDITS MUCH OF THE SUCCESS TO HER STEADFAST VISION. >> SHE ENGULFS HERSELF WITH THE DATA, THE PUBLICATIONS TO SEE WHAT THE LATEST AND MOST CURRENT THINGS ARE. SHAYNA: THROUGH HER WORK, SHE WOULD FIND HEALING. BUT A DECADE LATER, FOR A THIRD TIME, PATIENT OF THE VERY DISEASE SHE HAS DEDICATED HER LIFE’S WORK TO. >> I NOTICED SWELLING IN MY JAW. YOU COULD SEE THE SWELLING IN MY BRAIN. I HAD MORE THAN 20 TUMORS IN THE BRAIN. THIS WASN’T JUST BEING DIAGNOSED WITH A CANCER YOU COULD REGULARLY TREAT. THIS IS A TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS. I HAVE SIX TO 12 MONTHS TO LIVE. SHAYNA: THE NURSES SHE TRAINED PROFESSIONALLY, NOW BY HER SIDE, IN A SENSE, SHE’S THE BENEFICIARY OF HER OWN DEDICATION TO CARE. >> 10 TIMES OVER IS THE FACT THAT SOMETIMES A NURSE IS WILLING TO HOLD YOUR HAND AT THE MOST DIFFICULT TIME. JUST THAT TOUCH. >> DEAR CARLENE, WHEN I FIRST HEARD YOU LEFT YOUR POSITION — SHAYNA: REMARKABLY, IN THE 30 PLUS YEARS SHE HAS HELD SPACE FOR PATIENTS IN HER VULNERABLE TIME, IF YOU HAVE KNOWN OF HER OWN STRUGGLE. >> YOU MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT PATIENT. SHAYNA: WITH AN UNKNOWN AMOUNT OF TIME LEFT, THIS NURTURES A WIFE, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER WANTS TO LEAVE BEHIND SOMETHING THAT WILL LIVE ON. TO BENEFIT HER COLLEAGUES. >> IT IS ABOUT ALL OF US COMING TOGETHER TO TELL THE STORY ABOUT WHAT THE NURSING IMPACT IS AND IN TELLING THAT STORY, I WANT TO RAISE THOSE FUNDS TO DO MORE. SHAYNA: THIS TIME, SHE’S HOPING TO BUILD A NEW FOUNDATION. >> I WANT TO PROVIDE A FUND TO CONTINUE NURSING RESEARCH. NURSING RESEARCH IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE CARE OF OUR CANCER PATIENTS. WHATEVER IT IS, I HOPE IT RIDES A SEED FOR THIS TO TAKE OFF. ANTHONY: SHE CONTINUES HER CANCER BATTLE AND SAYS THAT SHE IS RESPONDING TO NEW TREATMENT

Nurse at Mass General Hospital battles cancer while providing resources and hope to patients

Karleen was in her early 30s when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Within months of her diagnoses, several of her colleagues were also diagnosed with breast cancer, all under the age of 35.


Now more than ever, we have seen how integral nursing is in the care of patients. Karleen Habin, RN, MSN, was the Associate Nursing Director of the Cancer Clinical Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital for 18 years. In November 2019, Karleen was diagnosed with stage four (IV), metastatic breast cancer to the brain. It is her wish that nurse colleagues, friends, family, patients and extended community members come together to support nurses, including those treating patients with COVID-19. Information on Karleen’s fundraising efforts can be found on the website of Cancer1Source, a nonprofit she co-founded to support cancer patients.

Now more than ever, we have seen how integral nursing is in the care of patients. Karleen Habin, RN, MSN, was the Associate Nursing Director of the Cancer Clinical Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital for 18 years.

In November 2019, Karleen was diagnosed with stage four (IV), metastatic breast cancer to the brain. It is her wish that nurse colleagues, friends, family, patients and extended community members come together to support nurses, including those treating patients with COVID-19. Information on Karleen’s fundraising efforts can be found on the website of Cancer1Source, a nonprofit she co-founded to support cancer patients.

https://www.wcvb.com/article/medical-journal-breast-cancer-nurse-at-mass-general-hospital-battles-cancer-while-providing-resources-and-hope-to-patients/33598607

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