Traveling nurse gets shocking diagnosis while helping with coronavirus efforts in North Dakota
A traveling nurse from the east coast who made her way to North Dakota to help out with the coronavirus efforts received a shocking diagnosis, but she’s still remaining positive through it all. “It’s pretty surreal and unbelievable how all of it happened,” said Helene Neville, a traveling nurse. She arrived in Bismarck on September 7 to help out with the coronavirus efforts. She says she was working three to four 12 hour shifts every week until mid-October. Then, she started feeling tired and decided to go to the ER, 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,” Neville said.
Neville says she hoped she just had COVID, but after doing some tests, it 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. Neville has been a nurse for the last 36 years. She’s worked in eight states and 200 different 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. On Nov. 19, she had a port installed so she can start chemo. But it was infected and she was hospitalized earlier this week with a blood infection.
And to make things worse, she was diagnosed with COVID.
Now, she has to wait four more weeks to start chemo. “As a runner, the race has already started so I’m going to have a lot of catching up to do,” 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.
And the 60-year-old 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,” Neville said. Although she’s so far away from home, she says it’s right where she needs to be. “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.
Karassa Stinchcomb Reporting