Valley woman works through breast cancer diagnosis while finishing nursing school
PHOENIX – “Yes, but…” seemed to be the words that punctuated Valley woman Lynne Lerman’s cancer diagnosis — a diagnosis that came as she was beginning her final semester of nursing school.
In June 2015, Lerman had just finished her third semester of nursing school when she felt a pain in her left breast.
She was 37 years old at the time. She considered herself to be young and healthy.
Lerman never expected anything to be wrong. But, after she performed a self-exam, she found a small lump.
She quickly scheduled an appointment with a primary care physician, who ordered a mammogram.
That mammogram quickly turned into a request for an ultrasound, then into a need for a biopsy, all in the span of about six hours.
Lerman went into her appointment feeling confident the results would be nothing serious.
“The nurse practitioner had come in and said, ‘yes, you do have cancer,’” Lerman recalled from that day.
She said her mind immediately began to fill with questions like, “What kind of cancer is it? What stage is it? What do we do about it? Where do I go from here?”
Unfortunately, Lerman said, her questions went unanswered, at least until she called the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
In a moment of desperation, while driving home from the appointment, she remembered the name of the center, pulled over to a parking lot and made the call.
The moment felt fated, she found that the Goodyear location was just 10 minutes from her home and she was able to get a care team to answer all her questions almost immediately.
But, she said the only question no one seemed to be able to answer was if she would be able to complete nursing school.
“Yes, I have cancer, but I have got to finish nursing school,” Lerman remembered thinking. “It was a huge thing that was over me, like I have been working on this for years and I’m not getting any younger. I’m one semester away from graduating and now I have cancer. Am I allowed to finish nursing school.”
She said her team did everything they could to support her throughout her treatment and her final semester.
“There was a timeline for everything that was going to happen in my journey to get me healthy, to get me cancer free,” Lerman said. “It was just right, it just felt right. Every time I went in their I felt ok, like this was the right thing to do and they were going to take care of me.”
A few months later, Lerman was able to complete her final treatment on the same day she officially became a nurse.
“Right before I came into my appointment I had found out that I had actually passed my state boards, so I was officially a licensed, registered nurse,” she remembered.
Lerman said her whole team was waiting to hear the good news that she had passed.
“When I came out of my radiation treatment, in my dressing room, [my team] had a little card for me and an angel ornament on there. Inside the card, the staff had signed it and gave me a gift card and said, ‘welcome to the club.”
Seven years later, Lerman is cancer free and still feeling so grateful for her treatment team.
Now she emphasizes the importance of always prioritizing your health regardless of all the, “yes, but” moments that life can throw at you.
“I didn’t wait days and weeks to decide to go find a cancer treatment program,” Lerman said. “I did it immediately and I would definitely recommend everyone do that.”