Longtime nurse Eva Bariuan had been battling breast cancer with the help of her medical team at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center for more than a year when she returned home to her husband in Korea for a well-earned break. But a car crash left her husband in serious condition, unable to walk.
Yet again, Bariuan found herself in need of help. And yet again, the nurses she had come to rely on most came to her rescue, helping her find an orthopedic specialist at UC San Diego. Soon her husband was taken to San Diego and set on a path to recovery.
“The nurses at UC San Diego always went above and beyond,” Bariuan said. “They were like a family to me. They cheer you up when you are down. They always told me that this was a bump in the road and reminded me there is sun on the other side.”
Bariuan was so inspired by the compassion of her nurses that she decided to join the staff at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. She is now a nurse case manager for patients dealing with cancer of the head and neck.
“As I go through my daily patient care routine, I always think of the days when I was in my patients’ shoes,” Bariuan said. “Instinctively, I can almost always predict the needs of my patients; not only their medical needs, but also their educational, psychological and moral needs.”
She works with a group of women undergoing new treatment modes for early breast cancer patients that deliver radiation directly to the site of the cancer. This work inspired her to start a mentor program. Bariuan and other nurses could advise women on traditional treatments, but she knew women facing this new treatment could benefit from the wisdom of women who had already gone through the new regimen.
She studied the results of the program, and found that women were less anxious about the therapy if they were able to consult with a mentor. Bariuan continues to study the mentor program and help those with cancer.
“Returning to UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center as a nurse gave me the opportunity to incorporate my experience as a cancer patient into my role as a nurse and give back in return for what I received.”