CIA Medical Scholarship Winning Essay by Shana Stuart

Shana Stuart’s CIA Medical Scholarship 2019 Award-Winning Essay

CIA Medical Scholarship Winner Shana Stuart

Shana Stuart

[Photo, top: iStock]

One of the top award winners of the CIA Medical 2019 Scholarship honoring healthcare heroes is Shana Stuart, a student studying Business Marketing Management at Western Governors University.

Shana’s winning essay focuses on Moana, the nurse who cared for her after surgery. Moana provided support and encourage through a difficult time, and gave Shana the “lessons of bravery and appreciation” she needed to face her health challenges.

CIA Medical recognizes the positive impact that nurses have on their patients. We wish Shana all the best for her health and her studies, and are proud to present Shana’s 2019 Scholarship Award winning essay on Moana.


An essay by Shana Stuart

Moana was my nurse after surgery. She was there when the doctor came in with my diagnosis and she held me as I cried and shook with fear. I had been held up three times at gunpoint in my younger years, but those three words from the doctor, “You have cancer” were scarier than any gun in my back. My life felt more threatened by cancer than any of the robberies I had been a victim of. I had expected to be rid of the cancer post-surgery, but they found more tumors than expected and could not remove them. It was bad. The cancer was aggressively attacking my body. I would need aggressive treatment to try and save my life.

As the doctor spoke my hands instinctively went into the prayer position. My husband put his arms around me and cried. Moana stood next to the doctor. She was thrown off course by this announcement. She had just come in to change my sheets, but she stood there like a soldier at attention with love and empathy spilling from her eyes. When the doctor had finished his dreaded speech, I excused myself to the restroom to regain my composure and when I came out, Moana was there with her big Hawaiian arms outstretched and ready to catch my little 90-pound broken body. I will never forget the strength and courage that filled my soul when she hugged me. Her embrace was silent but said so much. Words would have been useless anyway.

My shaking subsided as she rocked me in her arms. I laid my head on her shoulder and remember the feeling of acceptance washing over me. She held me for a long time, and I could tell she was praying and trying to fill me with all the comfort in heaven. Her grip was tight but gentle and I felt the courage rise from my soul and envelop me. Calmness blanketed me. An ocean of compassion poured into my being from this kind woman who was practically a stranger.

The realization that it was time to suit up and go to war began to empower me. At the same time weakness overcame me so I thanked Moana for her love and laid back down. I had a 7-inch incision from my navel to my C-section scar and two, 2-inch incisions, one under my arm and one where my leg bends at the groin. Nothing hurt, though, except my heart. I do not remember any physical pain from this surgery, only emotional. My life had, in five short minutes, turned upside-down and Moana had watched it happen. We had gone from having a nice conversation and laughter, to my complete melt-down, but her transition in care was seamless as she cried with us.

“The day they discharged me she showed up at the end of her workday (7am) with a bag from the gift shop for me. In it were three things; a travel bottle of antibacterial gel, a book with encouraging quotes, and a small polished stone with the word “Heal” on it. She told me she would be praying for me and I believed her.”

I was hospitalized for a couple more days and Moana checked on me regularly during her 12-hour shifts. I am sure she threatened the other nurses into being nicer to me as well. The day they discharged me she showed up at the end of her workday (7am) with a bag from the gift shop for me. In it were three things; a travel bottle of antibacterial gel, a book with encouraging quotes, and a small polished stone with the word “Heal” on it. She told me she would be praying for me and I believed her.

A month after my surgery I started chemotherapy. I was put into a clinical trial where I would receive 22 treatments, one every three weeks. I fly to Oahu from the island of Hawaii for infusion at the same hospital where I had my surgery and, as of today, I have seven more to go. Sometimes I wonder if Moana was an angel because I have not seen her since my recovery, and no one seems to know her. She would be the first of many angelic visitors, but she was the one who would prepare me for this difficult journey.

Not once did she offer advice, rather, she redirected my devastation and grief and taught me that I needed to reprogram my thoughts. As I answered her questions about my life, I became grateful and energized. Hopeful. Looking back, I see how she guided me to the state of mind that I needed to go home and tell my children and family. The state of mind I needed to start this battle. In that few days Moana not only helped me accept the challenge I faced but she showed me how to approach it with dignity and faith. She made me remember that I had gotten rid of every other enemy I had encountered, and this was no different. Public Enemy #1, you don’t scare me anymore. I am a warrior. Moana reminded me how tough I am, and I left the hospital inspired and confident.

Two other nurses deserve honorable mention in this essay. I do not know their names. On my way to the first day of treatment, there is a long hallway that leads to the doctor’s office and infusion room. Half-way down, I stopped and buried my face in my husband’s chest to cry. The nurses behind the reception desk came down the hall and led me in with their arms around me. Maybe they were afraid I would run, but this little gesture of extra kindness meant the world to me. I thought of Moana at that moment and recalled the lessons of bravery and appreciation she had so subtly instilled in me.

Almost dying makes you very aware. A sixth sense is inherited in a way, that puts you into survival mode. Your mind opens and parts of the brain you hardly ever utilize are awakened. Instinctively, your habits and mindset change to aide in your healing. Troubleshooting the situation becomes the objective of every fiber in your body and the cure becomes the only goal. In my case there was no time to lose, I had to rush a couple phases of mourning and get straight to the healing. Moana knew this and made sure she did everything she could to equip me for combat.

Mahalo Moana!

About the Author: Shana Stuart

Shana is finishing her four-year degree in Business Marketing Management. She will return to the workforce armed with a degree and her goal is to work for a company that is sustainable and environmentally conscientious.

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