Summer 2024
Main Page Download

Full Circle

Peter Tran’s journey to becoming a nurse began as a cancer patient By Jeremy Lloyd and Chris Low

Cancer. Peter Tran wouldn’t even say the word. The lump appeared on his neck during his junior year in high school. At first they thought it was a blood clot. Then came the diagnosis: nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

“It didn’t feel real,” he says of that day in the hospital. “I just recall, vividly, my dad and I were crying.”

Five rounds of chemotherapy. Dozens of radiation treatments. A missed high school prom.

But Peter’s story isn’t defined by his battle with cancer. It’s about what comes next.

While he was enduring the chemo, his skin peeling from the radiation, struggling with fear of the unknown, Peter was also discovering who God meant him to be, and he was hatching a plan.

Most people being treated for cancer want nothing more than to never see the inside of a hospital again. Not Peter. He set a goal to return to the very place he was treated, Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel – not as a patient, but as a nurse. To be there for kids just like him.

That goal led him to George Fox, where he thrived, not just in the nursing program, but as an Act Six scholar, a resident assistant mentoring underclassmen, and as part of a community developing deep and lasting relationships.

“Being diagnosed as a 17-year-old in high school seemed like the worst thing,” he says. “But to be here now at George Fox about to graduate from the nursing program is beyond what I could have imagined in the doctor’s office. The key is to stay hopeful because there are other great things waiting for you.”

Little did Peter know that his story would come full circle in the most amazing way…

Peter's art supply Peter's journal Peter's journal Peter holding a poster saying "Last Chemo"

An artist at heart, Peter kept a scrapbook from his time at Randall Children’s Hospital with drawings, wrist bands, photos, names of nurses and Bible verses. “That was one way for me to be true to myself while feeling all these emotions surrounding diagnosis and cancer.”

Peter kicks back in his dorm room

Peter kicks back in his dorm room in Newlin Hall. His senior year, he used his position as a resident assistant to organize a Halloween candy drive, delivering bags of candy with notes of encouragement to kids fighting cancer in local pediatric hospitals. “Being creative in relationships and being able to pour back into my communities while remaining grateful is a big part of my life.”

Peter praying with his friends

An Act Six scholar and first-generation college student, Peter prays with friends after receiving his graduation stole at the first-gen graduation ceremony.

Peter receiving a placement notice

In December, Peter was invited to what he thought was a routine meeting. Instead, a surprise awaited: a placement in Randall Children’s Hospital’s oncology wing as part of his senior clinical rotations. “No way,” he replied, in shock. He would soon be a nurse on the same floor he was once a patient.

Peter receiving diploma at commencement

Peter celebrates receiving his diploma at the university’s 2024 spring commencement.

Peter looking forward the transition

“Taking on this new role, transitioning from being a patient to a student nurse, felt empowering. Being able to revisit Randall for my senior practicum was truly a gift and a blessing. I particularly enjoyed the chance to connect with patients and engage with their families.”

Watch video: From Cancer Patient to Oncology Nurse: Behind the Bruin
facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
email sharing button

Summer 2024 Journal Cover

Cover of Summer 2024 issue

Looking for more?

Browse this issue of the George Fox Journal to read more of the stories of George Fox University, Oregon's premier Christian university.

Browse Summer 2024