When Peter Tran was a cancer patient at Randall Children’s Hospital, he dreamed of one day returning to help kids just like him in their own battle with cancer. Today, the senior nursing major is doing just that. Watch to the end to see Peter’s story come full circle in the most amazing way! 

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Watch video: From Cancer Patient to Oncology Nurse : Behind the Bruin

Video Transcript

You know when you're sick and you look up on Google and ask, “These are my symptoms, what could it be? And cancer was that last thing on that list?” It didn't feel real. I didn't even say it, and my dad was like, "Let's hope that's not it."

But once we got out of the office, I just recalled, vividly, that my dad and I were in the bathroom, crying just because it felt so unreal. You hear about cancer from other people. To have it hit so close to home and actually be diagnosed with it yourself was hard.

I had been into painting and watercolor. During treatment I was really fatigued, and I didn't have much energy, so I decided I would get a scrapbook. Actively in treatment when I was at home, I would just document pictures. I collected all my wristbands, I would write down my nurses' names, and just collect all the notes and draw anything that I could to pass time. That was my outlet of expression, and that was one way for me to be true to myself while feeling all these emotions surrounding diagnosis and cancer.

Peter Tran painting

June is in this picture here, and Vlad, he was my chemo pal/mentor. Here's one of the first mood trackers that I made. And then I have just a page of Scriptures that I found super helpful that I look back on or pray on. For instance, Isaiah 43:1-6 is super long. A part of it says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you."

During treatment it was a scary time. I felt fearful of the future in a sense, but I never felt alone in it. And so I knew that when I was down he was with me. I had family, I had friends, a good support system that was in place to get me through it. I was anxious, but I wasn't alone in it.

So I came to George Fox, an opportunity I had through the Act Six scholarship. I remember when they would tell us, "You're gonna achieve great things here at Fox, and you're gonna be able to serve your community." I was like, "How could I even do that?" I'd really like to go back to Randall's or Doernbecher, but Randall's was where I was treated.

I want to become a pediatric oncology nurse. I just have a heart for kids, and I think that, when it comes to oncology, having past experience helps you relate to them. Engaging with a patient, whether they're a child or an adult, and being able to walk them through those hard times and explain that it's out of their control and that we are here to support them is critical.

This year I'm an RA and using the position to reach different audiences – reach different students and serve back. So with this candy drive, I was able to reach these residents in Newlin and also campus-wide and use the role to inspire and engage with students. We've been promoting this for a while. We've had a lot of different departments and clubs on campus promote it. September is childhood cancer awareness month, and I figured it'd be a good way to have my residents involved.

Being creative in relationships – being able to pour back into my communities and remain grateful – that's a big part. I'm so thankful for everyone. In this book I remembered I would write down all of my nurses' names and my doctors' names and just be reminded of the people who have played a role in my life and cared, even if they were only there for a short period of time.

I thought that being diagnosed as a 17-year-old in high school was the worst thing anyone could encounter. To be here now sitting here at George Fox as a senior who's about to graduate from the nursing program, I couldn't have imagined that when I heard the news in the doctor's office. Just remain hopeful. That's a big thing. Stay hopeful. There's other great things waiting for you.

Peter practicing treating a patient

Professor: You put in your capstone survey that you really wanted an oncology placement.

Peter: Yes.

Professor: And you really, really loved one at Randall's as well. I will tell you, they approved one oncology placement, so open this card and let me know what you think.

Peter: No way.

Professor: Way.

Peter: Legacy Randall's?

Professor: Yes, of course.

Peter: Oh my gosh!

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