Advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer

“How did I go from a history major to cancer nurse researcher? I chose to change my path to follow what I love, and chose to be challenged to make myself better.

Soon after graduating with a history degree I realized that it wasn’t for me. I applied to nursing school and was accepted. That began my career in cancer nursing and academia.

My first job was a bone marrow transplant nurse at Cleveland Clinic while I pursued a master’s degree in oncology nursing. The first exposure I had to research was here at UCF, working as a research nurse for a nationally funded study – and it was exciting! A nursing PhD program was just beginning, and I was in the inaugural class. In the years since joining the faculty full time after graduation, I have been appointed to an endowed professorship and awarded federally funded grants.

My research focus on improving quality of life for older adults with cancer became clear early in my career. While working on a study, I discovered older survivors behaved differently than younger survivors. They tend to minimize cancer, often doing little or nothing to manage symptoms, and are at high risk for severe side effects. But they don’t have to live like that.

My current funded study is helping get their mind ‘into the game’ of proper self-care with an innovative educational tool. I never would have thought about using technology without my colleagues’ encouragement to think outside the box.

As a nurse, we have many options and I love sharing that with students. Research is hard work, but it is never boring.”\

UCF Affiliations