Cancer survivor nurse molds young minds
October 31, 2013
Bobbie Weber, an assistant professor of nursing at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City and a former Intensive Care Unit nurse at St. Anthony Regional Hospital, was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with her son, Ian.
When Bobbie Weber began working as a nurse at St. Anthony's Regional Hospital and Nursing Home, one of her favorite parts of the job was seeing "light bulbs" go off for other nurses.
She worked in the hospital's intensive care unit from February to September of 2012 and said she loved the group of nurses she worked with.
"I enjoyed seeing other nurses get it, get what nursing is," she said. "The best way I can describe it is getting the light bulb turned on, and I liked that as a nurse," she said.
But even as she worked as a nurse, Weber was also pregnant and undergoing treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer, which affects the adenoids and nasal system. She had been diagnosed in December 2011, and although she loved the work at St. Anthony's, she didn't feel as though she was able to keep it up.
"Because of delivering and then the side effects of chemo and radiation, it was everything I could do just to walk across my bedroom and take care of my apartment," she said. "I needed to stop."
She gave her notice at the hospital and continued treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center until she entered remission and was able to ring the symbolic "bell of completion" at the center.
Weber now works as an assistant professor of nursing at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, where she has been since January. She holds degrees from Briar Cliff and Clarkson College in Omaha. For seven years, she was an assistant professor in the bachelor of science in nursing program at Clarkson College.
She teaches nursing fundamentals and foundations at Briar Cliff, as well as a transition course in the university's RN-to-BSN program.
For her, she said, the high point of teaching goes back to the moment of understanding or recognition she'd enjoyed seeing with the nurses at work.
"It's never routine, and I get to help build other nurses who have the same passion for nursing," she said. "Their light bulbs go off, and to me, that's the most exciting thing."
Weber, 39, grew up in Ida Grove, Iowa, is the second-oldest of six siblings. Her entire family lives in Iowa, and she described them as very close.
Her favorite activities involve her family, whether it's playing with her son, doing crafts, sitting around a fire and grilling or heading to Ames for a weekend.
She met her husband, Christopher, in a bar in Omaha.
"I have no clue - I was with my cousin, and I said, 'OK,' and I agreed to give him my number," she said. "I haven't gotten rid of him yet."
They just celebrated their 12th anniversary.
Weber said her son, Ian, now 17 months old, was not affected by the cancer treatment.
"He's growing like a weed and getting into everything," she said.
She added that because of the effects of the treatment, Ian will be her only child.
Having taught at both her alma maters - both Clarkson College and Briar Cliff - Weber described the return as comforting.
"To me, that's what built me, and that's what I'm comfortable with," she said. "To continue to instill the same principles and foundations of both colleges to my students is awesome for me."
One of her favorite parts of teaching nurses is having them become colleagues. When she taught at Clarkson College, the college often hired those who completed the program, and she was able to work with them.
"I loved getting that relationship and seeing them grow, and having them come back and saying, 'Thank you - you got me into it,'" she said.
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