Traveling nurse gets shocking diagnosis while helping with coronavirus efforts in North Dakota

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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, and she remains positive.

“It’s pretty surreal and unbelievable how all of it happened,” said Helene Neville, a traveling nurse.

She arrived in Bismarck on Sept. 7 to help out with the coronavirus efforts.

She said she was working three to four 12 hour shifts weekly until mid-October. Then, she started feeling tired and decided to go to the emergency room, 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 hoped she just had COVID-19. After having some tests, the diagnosis 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 explained being on the other side of the bed is humbling.

“I gained a huge perspective when you tell somebody you don’t know how long you have,” Neville said.

On Nov. 19, doctors installed a port so she can start chemotherapy. She developed an infected where the port was installed and was hospitalized earlier this week with a blood infection.

Then she learned she had contracted COVID-19. 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 trying 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.

The 60-year-old explained that she’s lived a lot of what life has to offer.

“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 believes she is 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 hopes to check another item off of her bucket list: Run across Canada like just like she had the opportunity to when she was in the United States.

She ran more than 13,000 miles by herself, stopping at cancer centers and hospitals along the way.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

Click here for her GoFundMe.

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