“This Has Changed How I Care for Others”: Nurse Allyssa’s Cancer Journey

Mar 29 2024

Allyssa, a nurse at Mercy Health — St. Anne Cancer Center, never expected to be on the other side of the patient bed facing her own battle.

Initially seeking answers about her fertility, a routine laparoscopic procedure with her OBGYN revealed peritoneal lesions, signaling ovarian cancer.

“At 24, the diagnosis was a shock,” Allyssa shares, her voice still carrying the weight of disbelief.

Despite her familiarity with the cancer center, becoming a patient was uncharted territory. Nonetheless, she found solace in the familiar surroundings and compassionate care provided by her closest colleagues.

Under the guidance of Adnan Al-Khalili, MD, her oncologist, Allyssa navigated the challenges ahead.

“Dr. Al-Khalili was so kind and informative, he walked me through the entire process and helped put me at ease,” she acknowledges.

Alongside him was Kelly Martinez, Allyssa’s nurse navigator, whose support proved invaluable in helping to manage appointments and various referrals. And while the waiting period for scans and treatment plans tested Allyssa’s patience, receiving chemotherapy from her coworkers offered a sense of comfort.

“Their care eased my anxiety,” she admits, grateful for the support from her colleagues during treatment.

The news of her post-chemo scan showing no evidence of disease brought immense relief.

“It was a moment of profound gratitude,” Allyssa admits, reflecting on the positive outcome amidst the uncertainties. In addition to her medical care, Allyssa found spiritual support from Dee, a hospital chaplain.

“She is an absolute blessing to the ministry,” Allyssa says. “She offered support and prayer throughout my whole journey and continues to be one of the best humans I know. She helped to reignite my relationship with Jesus throughout this trialing time, and I can’t thank her enough for that.”

Looking back on her journey, Allyssa has found renewed purpose in her work with her patients.

“Going through all of this has changed how I care for others,” Allyssa shares. “I can relate to them better now and offer advice based on what I’ve been through.”

This firsthand experience has also given Allyssa a more grounded perspective in her role, understanding the challenges of cancer treatment both emotionally and physically.

“In my own experience, having a strong support system is essential.”

And as she and her husband now consider adoption, Allyssa finds strength in faith and trust in the journey ahead.

“There’s a plan for everything,” she adds.

Learn about the cancer care services we provide at Mercy Health.   

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