By Katie Ward
Community News Writer
Chattanooga State recently awarded Andrea Rowell, of Red Bank, with a Nursing Excellence Award.
She graduated in May from the nursing program, but the same day she received her pinning, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I will go through four to six months of chemotherapy,” Ms. Rowell said. “I will also go through radiation. I don’t feel like it is a death sentence. I feel like it is a learning experience.”
Currently, Ms. Rowell has been working on the oncology and cardiac floor at Memorial North Park Hospital.
“I plan to get oncology certified so that I can give chemotherapy infusions to patients,” she said. “I actually receive chemotherapy every Friday.”
Ms. Rowell enjoyed her experience in nursing school where she studied in subject areas of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology and nutrition.
“I need some floor experience right now,” she said. “I had eventually planned to go overseas and work in refugee camps in Africa. We will see if that still happens.”
She has also thought about teaching nursing, because she enjoyed tutoring fellow students.
“One of the reasons I got into nursing was because I took care of my grandmother before her death,” she said. “The doctors are so busy. Nurses make the whole experience better. It pays to have a compassionate person caring for you, so I thought I could be that person for other people.”
Prior to going into nursing school, Ms. Rowell worked in an eye surgeon’s office for 20 years, she said, adding that in the beginning he taught her a lot. However, she dealt a lot with charts and money and did not get the patient contact that she enjoyed.
Ms. Rowell will get to play the role as the nurse and the patient now that she has breast cancer.
“Breast cancer runs in my family,” she said. “My mom had a mastectomy 10 years ago and both of my mom’s sisters had breast cancer too.”
Even though Ms. Rowell had a negative mammogram in January, she detected a lump a month later, she said. She stresses the importance of doing breast self exams, which is how she caught the lump.
“My doctor (Dr. Maurice Rawlings of Memorial Hospital) feels that the lump was probably there in January, but not picked up by the mammogram,” she said. “Women should not believe that they are safe after a yearly mammogram. They should do self exams as well.”
Davey Daniel, of Chattanooga Hematology and Oncology, is Ms. Rowell’s oncologist.
Currently, Ms. Rowell lives in Red Bank with her parents. Her parents have lived there for 30 years. She moved back in with them while in nursing school, but now plans to stay longer due to her recent diagnosis.
“Dad is retired and he drives me to appointments,” she said. “They make a big fuss over me. I am not married and I don’t have children.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Rowell plans to continue to work at Memorial North Park as a nurse.
E-mail Katie Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org