WATE 6 On Your Side Heroes

Nurse fighting cancer still caring for patients amid COVID-19 pandemic

WATE 6 On Your Side Heroes

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – She’s a nurse on the front lines and works hard for her patients.

When the pandemic hit East Tennessee back in March, Nicki Stuffle put off keeping up with her own health. Four months into the COVID-19 crisis, she learned she was facing a huge challenge of her own: breast cancer.

It has not stopped her from doing what she loves, and that’s why Nicki Stuffle is our 6 On Your Side Hero.

As the sun comes up on a new day at Tennova North Hospital, it marks the end of the overnight shift for this hardworking nurse. Nicki stays strong on the front lines despite undergoing chemotherapy for stage 2 breast cancer.

“So I found a lump on March 24th,” Nicki says, “but I didn’t go because of COVID and didn’t want to be exposed, never knowing what was going to go on here, if we were going to be exposed here, so something just kept telling me ‘go, go, go.’ And so finally on June 2nd, I went, and here we are.”

She says Tennova North and Select Specialty Hospital, where she works, have been wonderful to her, making sure she is assigned to patients not considered high risk for COVID-19, given her own weakened immunity.

Her positive outlook, friends and co-workers, her three children, and her loving husband help Nicki face the toughest days.

“You know, chemo weeks are rough,” she shared, “but you know, I come in, I didn’t feel well tonight, but come in, got my girls with me, we rocked it out and felt better within an hour or two so just not being here has never been an option for me.

“It’s just who I am. Being a nurse is just who I am. It’s not what I do. It’s who I am.”

Nicki works at a place that recognizes its heroes with signs out front saying, “Heroes work here.” But she’s reluctant to call herself a hero. She gives credit to a higher power for how she handles this journey.

“I’m choosing to think this is just God writing another chapter in my life, my story. I don’t know where that story’s going, but we’re just going to believe in the author and keep rolling with it,” Nicki says.

Nicki just finished three rounds of chemotherapy with five more to go. She is having surgery in September and is waiting to learn more about what that involves.


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