Sarcoma Patient Sets Sights on Nursing Career

After her experience with cancer, Amanda was inspired to pursue a career as a pediatric oncology nurse.
After her experience with cancer, Amanda was inspired to pursue a career as a pediatric oncology nurse.

Twenty-one-year-old Amanda Lee has always wanted to be a nurse. But after being diagnosis with synovial sarcoma in 2012, Amanda suddenly had a more personal motivation to pursue her career goals.

After seeing her primary care doctor for pain in her lower back, doctors determined Amanda had a tumor that was causing internal bleeding. Amanda, then 17, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, and began chemotherapy at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic right away.

“When I was first diagnosed, I loved the idea of being a nurse even more,” says Amanda. “During treatment, I was able to get the real inside scoop on what being a nurse was all about.”

Amanda is currently taking general studies courses at Springfield Technical Community College and will be applying to nursing school. She will finish the program in May of 2017 if treatment doesn’t put her behind. She hopes to focus on pediatric oncology nursing, with a goal of someday working in the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber.

“Working in oncology would be a good fit because I could really relate to my patients,” she says.

Since her diagnosis, Lee has participated in a clinical trial for an anti-tumor drug, and doctors at Dana-Farber also referred her to a clinical trial in Bethesda, Md. where she received immunotherapy. The doctors in this trial engineered Amanda’s T-cells to attack her tumors, and Amanda had a great response.

In addition to her own cancer experience, Amanda says her nurse practitioner, Annette Werger, MSN, PNP, has also motivated her to pursue a nursing career. During treatment, Amanda says Werger not only cared about Lee’s health, but also how she was doing outside of the hospital.

“She wants to make sure I am having a ‘normal’ life through everything,” she says. “She is more like a friend than a nurse and I hope to emulate that with my future patients.”

Beyond her aspirations to be a nurse, Amanda participates in the 2016 Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai as a Jimmy Fund Walk Hero. Heroes are Dana-Farber patients who inspire others to make an impact in the lives of cancer patients through the event. Each Hero is matched with a Walk team who symbolically walks and fundraises in their Hero’s honor. In addition, Hero photographs will be displayed at as a mile or half mile markers along the Boston Marathon course on Sunday, September 25 to remind walkers why their participation and fundraising is so valuable.

“My experience with being a Jimmy Fund Walk Hero has been so uplifting,” says Amanda. “Having people walk in your honor to raise money for the Jimmy Fund is such an honor. I hope to do the three-mile route this year!”

Join Amanda on the route and register today for the 2016 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Together, we can reach the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.