Breast cancer survivor changes career to nursing

Nursing student, Leah Ruha (Ngāi Tahu, Te Whānau a Apanui), has been interested in working in health since she was 15. When she was made redundant from her role as a short haul flight attendant in 2020, she took the leap to nursing.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 31. After my journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, that is when I realised, I do want to become a nurse. So then when I was made redundant, I thought, ‘it is now or never.’ It has been a whirlwind,” Leah says.

Still in her second year at Ara Institute of Technology, Leah is undecided about where she would like her nursing career to take her.

“I would really like to spend some time in Oncology, or work in a primary care so that I am exposed to what is actually going on in the community and what people are dealing with every day,” she says.

While she is still on the fence about what area she wants to work in, Leah does know what kind of nurse she wants to be. In addition to her own breast cancer journey, Leah spent a lot of time around nurses when her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 15.

“I would always see nurses come in and out of our home and look after Mum so well. And even in her final days at Christchurch Hospital, the care she received was just amazing,” Leah says.

She wants her patients to feel comfortable to ask her anything and walk away understanding what is happening to them.

“I want them to know what treatment they will be receiving and with the understanding that they can contact me. I want them to have that reassurance that I am there for them,” says Leah.

Although life as an adult student has its challenges, Leah’s confident that she has made the right decision.

“I look back now and think, this is the right path for me,” she says.

Copyright Neil Macbeth
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