Shan RN... The Education Continues!

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My name is Shannon and I am a 45 year old widow and single mom. I have been a full-time mother for almost 20 years, with sons ages 19 and 11, and am now on the path to earning my RN. My ultimate goals are to become an oncology and palliative care nurse. After a horrific 2 1/2 year battle, my husband died of cancer at age 41. I was so inspired by the incredible care and support we received at the hands of our oncology nurses, that I decided to return to school during my husband's illness. Unfortunately, his disease and reactions to treatment were so severe that his physical, emotional and medical needs required me to be his hands-on caregiver 24 hours a day. Of course, my children needed my attention in myriad ways as well, so I put my educational plans on hold and continued to focus on my family. It was more than a year after David's death before I was emotionally ready to begin my schooling, but I am now well on my way. After toiling away for almost three years, I was just ACCEPTED TO NURSING SCHOOL on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013!!! I am also thrilled to report that I will be attending an accelerated program of 4 consecutive semesters, (with NO breaks!) and will graduate in May of 2015. :)

While learning how to be a single mother, and as I continue to walk my boys through their vastly differing grief journeys, I have worked incredibly hard in school. I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA and achieve Dean's List status.... well, until anatomy & physiology kicked my butt... meaning that I got B's instead of A's... grrrrr! The good news is that my GPA is still 3.95. :) At the same time, I am deeply involved with two bereavement organizations for children, Comfort Zone Camp and Camp Kesem. In less than three years, I have been able to raise almost $15,000.00 for these wonderful groups. I participate in runs each spring to raise awareness about childhood bereavement, while also collecting funds to send grieving children to camp for free. (And here's a newsflash.... I DON'T RUN... so it must be pretty important to me!) I am also very active with Life With Cancer. Like Comfort Zone and Camp Kesem, Life With Cancer is an organization that provides all of its services for free to cancer patients, caregivers and their families. We were so blessed to discover these groups and have taken full advantage of their amazing programs, from which we have benefitted in more ways than I can possibly express. I feel compelled to volunteer my services in an attempt to pay it forward, so that other families can make use of them as well.

In addition, three years ago I became a Mentor Angel for a spectacular organization called Imerman Angels. They match current and former cancer patients and caregivers, with others in the same situations that need immediate support. Though it saddens me that there is such an immense need, I have been very fortunate to be a Mentor Angel to six other caregivers. They have each expressed to me that I've helped them immeasurably, but I imagine the benefits to me have been far greater than anything I have been able to offer them. It has been such a gift for me to be able to provide guidance, comfort and support to those who so desperately need it.

Also, two years ago I took in an 18 year old boy that had also lost his father to cancer. He was a homeless alcoholic, in the early stages of recovery from his addiction, and desperately needed someone to just care about him. Anthony has become an integral part of our family, and I cannot imagine our lives without him. He's doing beautifully... clean & sober and working full time. 

Upon earning my RN, I plan to continue my education by earning my BSN, and then go on to  become an Oncology Certified Nurse, OCN and a CHPN, or Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse. I've also found a program where I can become a Certified Bereavement Specialist, and I'm really looking forward to participating in that.  I  am incredibly passionate about palliative care, and intend to make it my mission to get oncologists to encourage their patients to seek palliative care immediately upon receiving their diagnoses. I know in my heart that providing palliative care will be my forte... I feel that it is my calling. The emphasis on patient advocacy and education, inclusion of caregivers, improving quality of life, and care of the total patient: including emotional and spiritual support and guidance: for those facing end-of-life issues, are the components that really speak to me. I believe that my personal experience as a caregiver, as well as that of loss and grief, will enable me to provide great comfort and guidance to those in my care. It will be my honor to walk with my patients and their families through their cancer journeys.

I truly need your help to fund my nursing school education. The loss of my husband, who was our sole provider... our monumental medical debt... losing our business and the foreclosure on our family home... all of these factors have made finding the money for tuition nearly impossible. Since David died, we have been surviving on his Social Security Death Benefits, so that I could attend school and still be home for my boys. To add insult to injury, my oldest son, Reilly, turned 18 a year ago, so we immediately lost one third of our income. And guess what? We weren't making it with that money, so now we're in dire straits. The only way for me to attend nursing school now is to ask for help. And believe me, if there was any other way, I'd have found it.

I endeavor each day to be the best mother I can be, while trying to complete my schooling in preparation for supporting my family on my own for the first time. If I am lucky enough to receive donations, every single dime will go directly toward my tuition, books, uniforms and other items necessary to complete my nursing program of studies, and become a licensed RN.

Thank you SO MUCH for reading, and feel free to share!

ShanRN... Class of 2015!!!

***UPDATE #1 !!! It's now September of 2014 and I have recently begun my second year of nursing school!!! 

***UPDATE #2 !!! Now it's December of 2014, and I just registered for my FINAL semester of nursing school!!!

***UPDATE #3 !!!! It is now March 2015 & I am half-way through my FINAL semester of the RN Program... 9 more weeks until graduation!!!

***UPDATE 4!!! I have officially graduated from nursing school!!! You may now call me ShanRN! Time to get started on my RN to BSN!


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Shannon Beadle Streight 
Lovettsville, VA
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