CU Nursing student reunites with her oncology nurseDana Brandorff | College of Nursing Aug 14, 2018
At 16 years old and a rising high school senior, University of Colorado nursing student Olivia Current was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. For three years, she went through chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, dialysis, and kidney failure, which culminated in a kidney transplant courtesy of her brother.
During that time, Current and her family got to know the staff at Children’s Hospital Colorado very well. One of her nurses was Marion Hufford, a newly-minted CU graduate nurse who is also a Teaching Assistant at the University of Colorado College of Nursing.
“She was the one patient who stuck with me and whom I’ve wondered about for 7+ years,” said Hufford.
Spending her entire senior year as an inpatient, Current missed out on a lot of iconic high school events. Her senior photos were shot by a volunteer photographer at Children’s Colorado, immediately following her first chemotherapy treatment. “I had this beautiful Barbie hair that started falling out in clumps the day after the shoot. That was really devastating,” recalled Current.
While Current was struggling with treatment and survival, Hufford was taking care of her and it was having an emotional effect on the nurse. “I cried on my way home when Olivia found out she couldn’t go to prom,” said Hufford. “You don’t realize how much you connect with your patients while they are in treatment. Especially when they are with you for a very long time.”
After her cancer battle, Current “never wanted to see another hospital again.” Despite her loathing of hospitals and her fear of “not being smart enough,” the call to become a nurse was very strong. She worked on her pre-requisites at the Community College of Denver and then transferred to CU College of Nursing. Coming from a long line of CU graduates, Current was “very excited I was accepted into the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. It was the only college I wanted.”
Providing a variety of training and educational opportunities for its nursing students including traditional classroom lecture, hours of clinical rotations at hospitals and local clinics caring for patients, and simulations of real-world experiences, CU Nursing is recognized for its excellence in nursing education.
It was during one of those simulations that Current and Hufford reconnected and realized they knew each other. Hufford, who was teaching a group of undergraduate nursing students, was recounting real-life experiences as a hematology/oncology nurse when Current started talking about her experience as a patient at Children's Colorado. “We looked at each other and I said, "Olivia??" said Hufford. The two hugged and cried, and according to Hufford, there wasn’t a “dry eye in the room. It was really special.”
On June 30th, Current celebrated her Cancerversary. “It has been seven years since my diagnosis. I take 12 pills a day, have annual check-ups and every month I go in for labs for my kidneys to make sure they are functioning at optimal levels. But I feel physically good,” said Current.
Current’s plans for the future include following in Hufford’s footsteps and becoming an oncology nurse at Children’s. But she realizes that “it might hit too close to home.” She loves babies, so her backup is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).