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Edmonton woman battling cancer while striving to become nurse

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An Edmonton woman thought she was just weeks away from becoming a nurse. Instead, she's become a patient fighting breast cancer. Morgan Black introduces you to Tasheena Auger, our latest health-care hero – Apr 2, 2021

Tasheena Auger thought she was a few weeks away from becoming a licensed practical nurse. Instead, she became a patient.

After finding a painful lump in her left breast, the 28-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in mid-February. She was meant to graduate from nursing school at the end of April.

“My nursing has been put on hold. I was just about to start my final practicum,” Auger said, explain she was to start her preceptorship in general medicine.

Already, she’s gone to extreme lengths to keep on pace with her goal of becoming a health-care worker. She said she wrote her final exams the day after she completed her first round of chemotherapy at the Cross Cancer Institute.

Tasheena Auger in an undated photo. Courtesy: Tasheena Auger

From babysitting to caring for younger siblings, Auger said she has always felt a call to help the people around her.

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“My whole life, 100 per cent, I’ve always been a caregiver,” she explained.

Read more: Edmonton health-care worker details what it’s like to be redeployed during COVID-19

Graydon Nielson, Auger’s partner, said her strength has proved she’s more ready than ever to do a job that requires so much of it.

“I don’t think cancer has scared her at all,” Nielson said.

“Being a nurse is her dream. It’s all she wants. That’s what she has been working for.”

“I have a lot of friends that are nurses. They all kind of have that same mentality,” he said. “They just want to help people. I think it’s in their nature. They are heroes, really.”

Auger has five more rounds of aggressive FEC-DH chemotherapy before her treatment should be complete. She said the tumour has shrunk significantly already after one round of chemo, and her oncologist is positive about her prognosis.

“He was very excited about it.”

Tasheena Auger in an undated photo. Courtesy: Tasheena Auger

Auger hopes to finish school sometime in the winter and find a job in health care soon after.

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“My long-term goal is to be a maternity nurse for Indigenous moms in rural areas, while integrating cultural practices with evidence-based practice as well — and just combining the two so that we have a healthier community in those rural areas,” Auger said.

“I’m Indigenous and I just want to give back to my people, or give back to any Indigenous rural community.”

Auger said her time as a patient will guide her to help the ones she’ll meet in the future.

Read more: COVID-19: Edmonton artist creates mural made out of health-care workers’ words

“The way I am being cared for now is showing me how I want to care for my patients in the future,” she said.

You can donate to Tasheena’s GoFundMe for medical costs here.

Global Edmonton’s “Health-Care Heroes series highlights people in Edmonton doing amazing things during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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