When diagnosed with mesothelioma or any cancer some of the questions that run through your mind are: Will I ever be able to work again? Will my life ever return to being my own? Is this the end of life as I know it? What does my future look like? A diagnosis of mesothelioma with its survival statistics can be overwhelming for many people.
Sometimes in life you meet people that make a life-long impression on you. Whether it be at school, work, or socially you just don’t forget them. Many years ago at my first nursing job as a R.N., Julie was one of those memorable people. Julie was outgoing, fun, friendly, kind, a role model, a co-worker that you looked forward to working with. We were both R. N’s on a busy surgical floor. The patients all loved her enthusiasm and her wit. After a few years Julie left to get married and move to another state. The grape vine over the years reported that she had two sons.
A few years ago one summer day, I received a call from a friendly nurse inquiring about a nursing position. After talking for about 20 minutes, I disclosed that in addition to the service she was inquiring about we also did another service that we were passionate about: we followed patients that have mesothelioma, a rare disease. The phone went quiet as the nurse on the other end of the phone revealed she had peritoneal mesothelioma. We talked about what the chances are for her to be calling about another position and stumbling on our other services with mesothelioma patients. Continuing our call, she talked about her work experiences. I made the connection when she said her name. “You are tall, blonde, pretty, but what I remember most is you are very funny.” She laughed and said she was still funny. It was Julie! She had been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma 5 years previously. She had surgery and now was living with mesothelioma. She had returned to work within 4 months of surgery because she wanted to. She now admits this was not such a good idea physically but mentally yes it was a great idea. She had control, she was living her life on her terms. Peritoneal mesothelioma would not define her. She has advocated for herself and for others and is active in the mesothelioma community. As for advice for patients who are diagnosed, “have a positive attitude, listen to your heart, listen to your gut, advocate for yourself, have fun and go out and dance!”
If you are interested in connecting with Julie who is and continues to be an inspiration, reach out to us. Chances are that she will become one of those people that you don’t forget many years later!
About Julie Russell R.N.
Julie Russell is an experienced Registered Nurse who is also a mesothelioma cancer survivor. Julie’s clinical expertise in nursing is in the area of the Cardiac Intervention. She has also been an instructor of Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) for many years. Her varied nursing background includes roles as a nursing supervisor, educator and staff nurse.
Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2008, Julie has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and become an advocate for herself and others. A mesothelioma diagnosis effects the whole family. Her two sons became active in the mesothelioma community as well. She is a passionate advocate for all patients, but peritoneal mesothelioma is a personal cause of hers. She will be a guest blogger for us. Julie will be sharing her personal experiences with peritoneal mesothelioma as she continues to live and work a full life. Since diagnosis, Julie has also become a grandmother. We invite you to follow Julie’s journey and feel free to contact her for any questions or support.