A Story of Perseverance: Nursing Student Overcomes the Odds

Local News

This story is about one woman who wouldn’t let any hurdles stand in her way, even those hurdles that would stop many of us in our tracks.

Alexis Schulz is a wife, mother and a nurse, who couldn’t imagine doing anything but taking care of others.

“Born and raised in Bismarck, actually born at St. A’s and I’m currently a nurse there, so I always like to say, ‘I never made it very far, did I,'” Schulz laughed.

She’s currently working as a nurse, while in her seventh, and final, year of college, getting her doctorate in nursing at the University of Mary.

But that’s not the biggest hurdle she’s faced. That came last year, during a routine classroom activity. Students were practicing assessing each other’s thyroids, just like Schulz and her clinical instructor, Dr. Annie Gerhardt, did with her classmate today.

“Dr. Gerhardt came over and she was teaching, and she was like, ‘Do you know you have a nodule on your thyroid?'” Schulz shared.

By happenstance, they found an abnormal lump.

“You would’ve never even known she was stressed; if there was anything going on in her mind at all. And then she was just very open for the other students to come, and she said, ‘Check this out. It’s okay. Come check this out as a clinical learning point for everybody,'” said Clinical Competency Coordinator and DNP Dr. Annie Gerhardt.

“Nodules, 90 percent of the time are benign,” Schulz shrugged.

But hers wasn’t; it was thyroid cancer. But even over the course of two surgeries, she never slowed down.

“That resilience in-and-of-itself is beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so calm, and honestly, the only time she called me was in January after she’d had the one surgery. They were supposed to be doing a presentation, and she wanted to know if it was going to be okay if her partner did more of the talking, because she might be a little hoarse. And I was like, ‘Of course!'” exclaimed Dr. Gerhardt.

“I go back to my ICU background all the time. Like, I see what real suffering is and I see those people in critical conditions and things that are permanent and lost forever. And I think this is something that I can come out of, you know. I can get through this,” Schulz explained.

There are still some minor complications left and Schulz will need to get periodic check-ups for a while, but she can now call herself cancer-free.

Schulz is set to graduate in April.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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