WHEN JANET SCHADEE, M.S.N., looks back at her varied nursing career, she says she always cared and advocated for cancer patients with all kinds of needs. Early in her public health career, there was the star high school basketball player who contracted AIDS-related cancer, and later, the elderly gentleman in hospice whose goal was to have his wife learn to write a check before he died. In her current position with Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas, she has focused on helping men with bladder, urethral and prostate cancers recover and thrive.
Janet says caring came naturally after she watched her grandmother care for the rural residents of Michigan as their public health nurse.
“She cared for everyone in a 70-mile radius where there were no doctors,” Janet says, recalling her summers with her grandmother.
When she attended nursing school in the early ’70s at Purdue University, Janet learned that there were many causes to confront, and nurses were moving from doctors’ shadows to gain recognition in their own profession.
It was in a children’s hospital that she came in contact with the high school basketball star. She cared for him during a time when fear and ignorance about AIDS meant taking precautions unheard of today.
“We had to sneak into the house through the back door, because if the neighbors found out, we were concerned that they would picket,” she says. “At the time, there was a lot of fear. I couldn’t tell my husband where I was going.”
She also provided hospice home care for other patients with cancer, so when her husband was transferred to San Antonio, Janet was able to take her skills to BAMC, where she is the urology oncology case manager for active-duty veterans and their families facing many urologic cancers.
She says the physician who hired her into the newly created position had a wish list of what he wanted to provide — and then he was transferred. But Janet kept working her way down the list. When traveling to a monthly support group became cumbersome for her patients because of its location, she started one on the base. Today, it has 70-plus members.
“I bring in speakers to continue to educate them, because they need to advocate for themselves and be invested in their own care and encouraged to get involved in community and national efforts to further prostate cancer research and awareness,” she says.
Janet became involved with the Reel Recovery group, a nonprofit that provides fly fishing retreats for men with cancer. She helps to enroll eight to 10 men to go to the retreats each time, and they come back and share what they learned with the support group.
She created and organizes the weekly Comprehensive Prostate Cancer Clinic at BAMC for all the facility’s patients with newly diagnosed prostate cancer.
“This job has been so inspirational,” she says. “I am thankful that I can be a link in the chain of cancer care, management and, with luck, research and good medical science. To work with the military men and their families is such a great honor.”