Humans of UCSF: Nurse & Guide

Monday, November 28, 2016

“I am a cancer mom. Once a cancer mom, always a cancer mom. I'm also a registered nurse and have worked in the emergency department (including a pediatric trauma center) and intensive care for over 15 years.

Hearing the words, ‘Your child has cancer’ changed me forever. My daughter, Gabriella, was four years old when she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. My youngest daughter, Bridget, was not yet two and life had turned completely upside down.

For the following year, her treatments consisted of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, days of radiation, many hospital trips and many overnight stays along with a multitude of drugs and procedures to cure her.

On days that my husband had to work, I found myself bringing Gabriella to clinic treatment at the hospital 40 minutes away while having to hold Bridget and console her as Gabriella was getting IVs, blood transfusions, or chemotherapy; all while trying to keep my family together and figure out how to be a mom. In the beginning, it was a nightmare.

No one ever wants to hear the words ‘your child has cancer’ but this was our chosen path and we had to travel it. After a year of treatment, she is now a survivor and is currently 8 1/2 years old.

Through the experience, we found strength in the community, in our friends and family and most importantly, each other. I had never believed in the kindness of humanity as much as I believed after my daughter was diagnosed.

Having a child experience cancer opened the door to many opportunities. I've been able to learn that the pediatric cancer population is devastatingly underfunded, vulnerable and diverse.

I've been able to learn about oncology down to the specific cells and genomes, find research that will assist scientists in creating more effective treatments, collaborate with physicians, investigators, nonprofits and other cancer parents all over the world.

I've been able to assist those families newly diagnosed with childhood cancer and guide them through the emotional and physical aspects of their treatments.

Most importantly, my child is a survivor and I've been where many of these parents are when they walk through the doors of an oncology clinic for the first time.

I have the ability to give hope to so many others.”

Kristin Cosner

UCSF School of Nursing, First Year