How I Navigated Cancer as a Nurse While…


How I Navigated Cancer as a Nurse While Enriching My Spirit

May 10, 2024 | by Tania Amardeil

I’m a registered nurse, but when I learned that I had cancer, I forgot everything I knew.  My mind immediately went into overdrive and my heart filled with fear. I had just lost my mom to cancer a few months prior; my step-dad not long before that. In our family, cancer usually doesn’t end well.

I became immersed in research, reading medical journals. I really struggled at the beginning and was very lonely. I was used to nursing others, not being nursed. Going through cancer became a powerful learning journey, though, and today it helps me to relate even more closely with my patients.

After watching my mom go through cancer, I realized that I wanted to work in oncology. I made the switch from obstetrics, and today I’m a cancer nurse navigator. I’ve never been so happy in my 15 years of nursing. This is where I belong. My family perspective and personal experience with cancer have been huge in helping me to connect with my patients. The work fills my heart and my soul – it’s very rewarding. When I go home at the end of the day, I know I’ve made a difference.

I act as my patients’ point of contact to coordinate care between members of the health care team and to support them on their journey – answering their questions, keeping an eye on their files, and following up with them regularly. And whether it’s managing body image challenges or end-of-life planning, my colleagues and I support our patients every step of the way and connect them with the resources they need.

Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) is one of those resources. It’s something that benefited me immensely when I was a patient. I truly believe that the LGFB workshops are the reason why I kept going. They gave me the strength and courage I needed to manage my journey as well as I did. The workshops were something to look forward to. Whether it was a tough treatment day,  or dealing with complications from my surgery –  I knew that online workshop was just for me. I could look forward to feeling good, having great conversations, and learning new things. Those workshops felt like Christmas. And, as someone who lives in an isolated, remote place (Yellowknife, NWT), the workshops gave me a way to connect with other people who were going through the same thing. They reminded me that I was important, that I wasn’t alone, and that I was beautiful. And even though I’m more likely to be out fishing than spending an afternoon putting makeup on, I just love the program so much.

It really works. And as a cancer nurse navigator now, I’m grateful to be able to tell my patients about this resource. LGFB gives cancer patients hope.   

Family support was also important to my journey. My daughter Michelle was my #1 supporter. We can’t forget about our caregivers – they’re one of the hugest anchors in a person’s journey. And connecting to my spiritual, creative side was vital too. For me that looks like painting, connecting with the land and the water, going fishing, and watching the Northern Lights.

An interesting thing about my experience with cancer is that it allowed me to find myself. I’ve always been the good daughter, the good friend – but I forgot about me. Finding me means doing more of what I enjoy doing, and saying no to what I don’t want to do. It means recognizing my needs. And it means enriching my soul and spirit. I continue to do that today through the rewarding work I do with cancer patients.