Mario Lozada

May 2013
Class of 2014


I believe this about nursing… it’s about helping people thrive even during the toughest times in life.

I will never forget the numbness I felt when I first learned that I had cancer. I had come to the emergency room at 5am on a Saturday morning after experiencing an unusual pain in my chest for a week. I would have never expected what the x-ray revealed: a large tumor pressed against my heart. After the doctor showed me the x-ray, I felt numb. I was certain I would die within weeks, if not months. Uncertain about how much longer I had to live, I began saying my goodbyes to my family and friends.

My condition deteriorated rapidly, and within days I was placed on supplemental oxygen to breathe. After spending nearly a month in the hospital undergoing extensive procedures and surgical biopsies, I was given my diagnosis. I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, caused by a rare type of lymphoma that usually strikes people in their 60s or 70s. I was 26 years old at the time.

For the next half-year, I underwent chemo every 3 weeks, followed by a month of radiation. During my treatment, a home-care nurse came to monitor my condition every week. One day, when I was very sick, the nurse said to me: “You’ll be ok. The human body is strong. It wants to live. You will beat this.” Suddenly, as if her words were more powerful than any chemo or radiation, I realized that I could beat cancer, and that I could survive.

Throughout the harrowing 6 months of treatment, my condition steadily improved. The tumor shrunk more than 50% in just 3 months. At the end of treatment, I was told that I had an 80% chance that the cancer would go into remission and never return. Presently, I live a mostly normal life, patiently waiting and hoping for the official word that my cancer is gone.

Cancer has taught me a lot. It has taught me that tomorrow is never promised, and that the course of your life can change in an instant. It has also taught me that I can thrive even during the toughest times in life. And, perhaps most importantly, it has shown me my goal in life. It has given me the determination not only to overcome my own cancer, but also to pursue oncology nursing so that, one day, I may help others overcome their cancer.