Similarly to how people recall where they were when 9/11 occurred or perhaps where they were when Elvis died, everybody has a relational story of the emotions aroused when they first learned of the potential impact Covid-19 was going to have.
Kinber Roberts recalls the frustration she felt after Covid led to a nationwide shutdown of many businesses, social activities and even schools in March 2020.
Roberts, 34, of El Reno, had been placed on a waiting list for enrollment into the Practical Nursing program at Canadian Valley Technology Center.
School reopened after a brief closure, and Roberts was notified she could begin attending classes at CV Tech’s Cowan Campus in Yukon, in August 2020. She continued working full-time shifts on weekends at River Oaks Skilled Nursing & Therapy in El Reno, where she had worked since 2013. All she needed was an opportunity, she kept telling herself.
As she progressed through curriculum, she was notified of another key life event in March 2022. It’s the news nobody wants to hear. Three words that hit with the force of a tidal wave.
“You have cancer.” In fact, she had a cancerous tumor on her left kidney. Understandably, she went through a range of emotions.
Roughly 40 percent of Americans receive the somber news from a doctor at some point in their lives, according to a report provided by the National Cancer Institute.
Roberts preferred to hold onto hope that there are an estimated 16.9 million cancer survivors in the U.S. That number is projected to increase to 22.2 million by 2030, according to the report.
Roberts took medical leave for a couple months after undergoing surgery to remove the tumor and a portion of her kidney. There was no follow-up treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
“Kidney tumors don’t qualify for it,” she said.
Roberts returned to school last summer in June and quickly completed remaining coursework. A figurative weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She was determined to find some good in her predicament.
“I look at this situation as being the best outcome it could have been in a dark situation,” she said. “I was blessed to gain a unique patient perspective that will aid in me becoming the most compassionate nurse.”
She also completed the NCLEX-PN exam, which is a requirement for practicing licensed practical nurses in Oklahoma. Graduation night was October 10 in a joint ceremony with practical nursing graduates across CV Tech’s district at the school’s Chickasha Campus.
To her excitement, Kally Watson also graduated that night. The two met at River Oaks in 2015 while they were both working as nursing assistants. They became close friends and virtually inseparable during their educational experience at CV Tech.
Watson, 28, of Locust Grove, started the program before the Covid panic struck, but she was able to complete just two months of curriculum before the shutdown.
Personal circumstances forced Watson to take leave from the program until January 2021, but she completed last April. Upon passage of her NCLEX-PN exam, Watson was hired by Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Ark., to work on the orthopedic med surge unit. She is currently working as high demand travel nurse from state to state.
Roberts, who starts a new assignment as an LPN at River Oaks this month, said she was excited to see her friend again at graduation and has a suggestion for future PN students at CV Tech.
“The road to success can feel nothing short of a tall mountain to climb,” she said. “Each step will have its struggles, but each holds so much value. Take the time to find the value in each one, because I promise it’s there. Hard work pays off, and when it does the mountain has an amazing view.”
Roberts hopes to eventually attend college in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Watson wants to become a registered nurse and hopes to also pursue either nurse anesthetist or nurse practitioner down the road.
CV Tech’s Practical Nursing program is available at CV Tech’s Chickasha and Cowan campuses. It is among two dozen full-time programs available at three metro area campuses.