Oncology nurse helps keep cancer patients safe during pandemic

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BRATTLEBORO — When she attended Brattleboro Union High School, Jessica (Thurber) Gould babysat for a young girl with cancer.

She knew then that she would be an oncology nurse.

"I feel a bit sheepish being called a hero or front-line or essential. I love my job," said Gould, who has been working at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Mass. for the past 18 years.

The West Brattleboro resident assists the hospital's doctors, examines the cancer patients to determine the order of care, and supports the nurses giving infusions.

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"It has been incredibly challenging to keep taking care of cancer patients in the midst of a pandemic, where our patients are at increased risk but still need to proceed with treatment," the 1993 BUHS graduate noted. "It also is really satisfying to keep patients and co-workers safe, and to see the amazing strength of oncology patients who teach us all to endure in the midst of all the fear in the world."

She has been participating in her workplace's "code Rocky" celebrations this spring. With the Rocky movie theme song playing, recovered COVID-19 patients exit the hospital as employees line the hallways to cheer them on.

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"Honestly, a pandemic doesn't change how we work. We always are working to make the best outcome possible for the patients," Gould explained.

The Messiah College grad stated that running has definitely helped get her through this crisis.

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"I am working, my husband (Eli) is working from home, and we have three kids home doing virtual schools, so many family dinners and not enough sports means dinner conversations have gotten increasingly weird," Gould said.

Luckily, mom usually brings home a good work story.

"One patient told us recently that she found a new strength and resilience that she didn't know she had, by having to come to the clinic on her own without family or visitor support," Gould recalled. "This makes me excited, because this is something that will help the patient for the rest of her life. This sort of silver lining is another reason cancer patients are amazing."

She is looking forward to watching her children play sports in the fall. Delia will be playing sixth-grade field hockey, while Eva and Calvin will each be on a BUHS team — girls soccer and varsity football, respectively.


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