Crystal Zunino

When Crystal Zunino was diagnosed with stage 2 non-Hodgkin lymphoma at just 23, she had just started her career as a middle school math teacher in Warner Robbins, GA. Little did she know, her battle with cancer—which included six rounds of chemotherapy—would lead her to find her true calling.

While at the treatment center for a follow-up scan, she offered to help a man in a wheelchair get to the chemo room while his wife parked the car. At her next visit, nurses told her the man had been looking for her and thought she was a nurse. When Zunino joked about the encounter, her doctor encouraged her to think about becoming an oncology nurse. Zunino did more than just think about it: Not long afterward, she went back to school. She graduated in May 2018 with a nursing degree and now works on the surgical oncology floor of a hospital.

“I feel like I had cancer for a reason,” said Zunino. “It was to find my true calling as an oncology nurse.” She says her experience helps her empathize with patients. “I can hold their hand and know what they’re going through,” she says”

Since becoming a nurse, Crystal has began working on a chemotherapy certification. Her goal is to some day work at the same infusion center where she was treated. “My work is fulfilling,” she says. “I love it.” Read Crystal’s whole story from the American Cancer Society.