Nurse, cancer survivor puts faith in doctors and gets vaccine

Nurse, cancer survivor puts faith in doctors and gets vaccine

Beau Nowicki pulled from her experience as a cancer survivor when deciding to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nowicki, a labor and delivery nurse at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., had struggled with thyroid disease for years until 2016 when her doctor urged her to get her thyroid gland removed. Days later, she learned that despite two negative biopsies, she had thyroid cancer. Nowicki immediately underwent radiation therapy and still sees an oncologist every three to six months.

In April, she’ll celebrate five years cancer free.

“When you get diagnosed with cancer, it stops you in your tracks,” Nowicki said. “You have this thing that could potentially end your life. You ask yourself ‘what do I do?’ I put my faith in my doctors. When the vaccine came, I knew I had a choice. And I decided to take that leap of faith again. I know it’s the right thing to do for my family, for my patients and for my co-workers.”

While her own health journey ultimately guided her decision, Nowicki, like many, had questions about the vaccine before deciding to get it. She consulted with her doctors and her family. And she considered what she could do to help end the pandemic.

“We can get back to a sense of normalcy,” Nowicki said. “If we want that, I think this is what we should do. Whatever is holding you back, don’t be afraid.”

Thinking about her patients after receiving her second dose of the vaccine, Nowicki began to cry. She’s helped welcome countless babies into the world in her 22 years as a nurse, but the protocols implemented to combat the pandemic have taken away some of the warmth and closeness of the experience.

“I really love being a nurse and I have a hard time not being able to connect with my patients during such a momentous and life-changing experience as easily as I could before the pandemic,” Nowicki said. “I’m looking forward to getting that back.”

Click here for more stories about doctors, nurses and others working on the front lines.

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About the Author

Katie Dahlstrom
Katie Dahlstrom

Katie Dahlstrom, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. A storyteller at her core, she is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly five years working as a public relations professional for Chicago’s commuter rail agency, Metra. Outside of work, she enjoys birding, photography and spending time with her husband and dog.