Childhood Cancer Survivor Becomes Oncology Nurse and Hero

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 15, Volume 15,

A mother credits her son’s oncology nurse for saving his life and their entire family with her smile, grace and endless commitment.

Shiley Aguilar, M.S.N., APRN, FNP-C, has been a beacon of hope and compassion for our family for over seven years, starting when our oldest son was diagnosed with cancer at three years old. We credit Shiley for not only his survival, but also our family's. Her intelligence, sincerity and focused attention on us throughout his diagnosis, treatment and recovery has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Her personal experiences as a childhood cancer survivor gave our family hope from the very beginning. We saw her thriving and living proof of a brighter day. Over the course of the seven years, she grew her own family, which gave us hope for our son's future family.

While on maternity leave, we had different providers who, while professional, did not offer the same level of personal connection that comes when having lived through an experience like cancer. We saw a stark contrast in the relatability and simple gestures Shiley knew to exhibit where others did not. For example, before any discussions would take place at a visit, she would immediately report on test results, knowing the source of anxiety that leaves families and patients by not knowing. Her personal attention to understand her patients and their families make her not just an exceptional nurse, but even more so a truly gifted and inspiring person.

Our son, based on his experiences with treatment, has a negative connotation with medical staff. At the start of our journey, Carter cried, kicked and buried himself into our arms to avoid Shiley and all medical staff. As a parent, its heart wrenching to see such fear in your child. However, she was able to be patient with him, earn his trust and connect with him on deeper level. Her emotional intelligence and deeper understanding of what Carter was going through from her experiences with cancer herself enabled them to form a connection where my son trusts Shiley completely and will only see her for medical care.

Shiley has always made us feel that she loves and cares for our son as much as we do as his parents. We would like to consider her family, but she is more than that; she is our guardian angel, for she saved not only our son but our whole family. We are truly grateful for Shiley's bright smile, grace and endless commitment to ensure our son lives a long, happy life. It is with great honor to submit this nomination on her behalf.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Lauren Goodwin for the 2021 Extraordinary Healer Award. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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