In 2018, right in the middle of the spring semester, Olivia Cuevas Lynch ’19 underwent open heart surgery.
When she reflects on that time, she admits it was difficult. Although, it was also a time where she felt immense pride in her own tenacity toward earning her B.S.N. degree through Immaculata’s RN to B.S.N. program. She explains that she had to write an exhausting paper for her class in Holistic Care of the Chronically Ill, work a full-time job, continue to heal her body and juggle doctor appointments.
“I knew that this was the career I was truly meant to be in,” she says. “I mean, who else would put themselves through all this stress if they did not truly want to be in this field.”
Beginning her career as a certified nursing assistant, Olivia became an RN and then an LPN and worked for 18 years in the telemetry/oncology stroke unit at Lankenau Medical Center before she transferred to Paoli Hospital Cancer Center.
Although the coursework was rigorous, returning to school after a lengthy time away was an initial concern for Olivia. However, her very first nursing professor, Nancy Berry, made her feel comfortable and excited to be back in the classroom. She started taking classes at Lankenau with their cohort but once she switched jobs, she joined the cohort at Springfield Hospital. Surrounded by nursing classmates who were also navigating work, classes and family life, Olivia found it easy to relate to them and make friends.
“Immaculata allowed me to take classes while working full-time and accommodated me however they could,” she says. This was especially true during her illness. She explains that she originally had a pacemaker inserted and then ended up needing heart surgery. Olivia’s frequent hospitalizations to combat atrial fibrillation required her to stop-out of classes temporarily to tend to her health.
Her experience in the B.S.N. program was so positive that Olivia wanted to share the pinnacle of her achievement with her family. Relatives from the Philippines came to celebrate her graduation, as they were a part of her educational journey that started there many years ago. Her parents were both dentists in the Philippines and Olivia was enrolled in dentistry school before the family immigrated in 1991 to the U.S., settling in California for three years. Family already living in California and working in the nursing field encouraged Olivia to pursue a nursing career.
Oliva says that her position as a medical oncology nurse is extremely gratifying. She finds fulfillment by providing relief to suffering cancer patients. This is important to her, both professionally and personally, because she watched her mother battle breast cancer for 21 years. During this time, she and her family were grateful for the expertise and support the nurses showed her mother. Since Olivia has been working at Paoli, her patients and their families wrote many letters of gratitude and thanks to her too. “It is humbling to know that people feel the same way about me now—the way I felt for my mother’s nurses during her battle,” Olivia says.
As a nurse, family member of a patient, and finally as a patient herself, Olivia’s perspective provides her with a full spectrum of care. Her patients are very fortunate.