Emily Russell, R.N., IBCLC
The day in nursing school when I witnessed my first birth was the day I
knew that I was home, that I'd found what I wanted to do for my job:
I wanted to help women in labor and support them in delivering their babies.
I started working for Southeast Georgia Health System in labor and delivery
on the Camden Campus as soon as I finished nursing school, and I was so
excited for my new career.
Fast forward to October 2017… I was still helping laboring women
and happy in my job. Then my life changed. My doctor told me that I had
cancer. The gravity and the enormousness of this diagnosis was almost
unbearable, but my coworkers were so supportive and kind. They checked
on me and asked me how I was doing all of the time. I worked through oral
chemotherapy and radiation. I was slower at work because I was sick and
unable to carry the load of a normal nurse, but no one said anything.
They helped, they had my back, and they were supportive.
In 2018, I worked very little. The Health System granted me FMLA. I had
two surgeries and then IV chemo for four months. During this time, I still
loved coming to work when I could. It was my distraction, my place where
I still could feel like I contributed to society. I would take pieces
when someone had to go to a doctor's appointment or to see their child’s
game. I could not handle 12-hour shifts anymore, but I received calls
to cover parts of shifts, and I so appreciated that. I had planned to
return to work again after I finished chemo, but the side effects of treatment
made it difficult to perform my usual duties. My hands and feet have neuropathy.
It’s difficult for me to start IVs or check cervixes.
Fortunately, in the meantime, I had studied and taken the test to become
an IBCLC, and my manager offered me the position of Lactation Consultant.
I have such gratitude for being a team member in this Health System. I
love what I do. I work on my home unit with my wonderful coworkers and
an amazing manager. And I'm currently cancer free! I am so blessed.