BISMARCK, ND (KXMA) — A traveling nurse helping to treat coronavirus patients in North Dakota has been diagnosed with both COVID-19 and cancer, but she’s still remaining positive through it all.
Helene Neville arrived in Bismarck on Sept. 7 and was working three to four 12-hour shifts every week until mid-October. Then she started feeling tired and decided to go to the emergency room, where she was greeted by a nurse.
“Said to the nurse, ‘You know, I’m a traveling nurse. I don’t know one person in this town and by the way, I don’t have insurance at this very moment. Can you help me?’ She came around and said, ‘You’ve come to the right place.’ Then I passed out,” said the 60-year-old Neville.
After some tests, the news was something nobody wants to hear.
“It’s stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and it’s with some metastasis to my liver and spleen,” Neville said.
To make things worse, she was also diagnosed with COVID and now has to wait four more weeks to start chemo.
On Nov. 19, she had a port installed in her body for the upcoming chemo treatments, but it became infected, and she was hospitalized earlier this week with a blood infection.
Neville has been a nurse for the last 36 years. She’s worked in eight states and 200 hospitals. She says it’s humbling to be on the other side of the bed.
“I gained a huge perspective when you tell somebody you don’t know how long you have,” Neville said.
Despite all of the hurdles, she’s doing what she can to remain positive.
“There’ always somebody less fortunate, and so, I have to try to be an example for other people that there’s life with hope. But it’s not just hope. If you have action too, the action I want to display is that until your last breath, you can be an example for others,” Neville said.
Neville says she has a lot of life left to live.
“I want to see my grandkids drive a car or things like that. I want to be a nurse for 40 years, so I want four more years,” she said.
“People say things happen for a reason. I don’t know if that’s true but having happened in this location I was glad to be here and not somewhere else,” Neville said.
Neville also hopes to be able to check another thing off of her bucket list: Run across Canada just like she did in the United States.
She ran more than 13,000 miles by herself, stopping at cancer centers and hospitals along the way.