After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Tynasha McGuire had a decision to make: Put her education on hold while fighting for her life or keep moving ahead with both.
Luckily, McGuire said, she had solid support at home and sympathetic instructors at school — which helped make the choice a little easier.
“I had great people around me that encouraged me to keep going — just keep going. So, I did both,” McGuire said. “I had teachers who were wonderful and really understanding. I’m also the proud mother of an 11-year-old son, who is super-duper, extremely active, so during my time here, my husband had to take on a huge load.”
For the next 13 months as a full-time student at West Coast University-Texas, McGuire underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments — sometimes even during class.
“There were days I couldn’t even put on my scrub top. I spent many days at the cancer center getting treatments, walking around with my laptop, online in class,” she said. “The only benefit of (the pandemic) is I got to stay home and go to school virtually, while I tried to regain everything back and finish school all at the same time.”
With nearly two decades of healthcare experience under her belt before attending WCU, McGuire first started working in hospitals in 2003 as an emergency room patient care technician. McGuire knew “there was something more that I could be doing,” and began to take classes in her free time to advance her career. Initially drawn to nursing, she ended up pursuing a respiratory therapist degree and worked in the field for 13 years, among other things. “I became an (electroencephalography) tech for patients with seizures, different forms of epilepsy, or brain injuries,” she said. “I also did neuromonitoring during surgery but eventually realized I missed being at the bedside with patients.”
Following the advice and encouragement from nurses she worked with in Fort Worth, McGuire set out at age 37 to finish her goal of earning her bachelor’s degree and becoming a nurse. And now, just over a year after having to decide whether to finish school or focus solely on beating cancer, McGuire is proud to say she has done both. She completed her BSN program in August 2021 and wrapped up her cancer treatments one month prior.
At her BSN pinning, McGuire was named her cohort’s Florence Nightingale Award winner and honored by The DAISY Foundation, two complete surprises that left her shocked and speechless.
“And I’m never speechless,” she said laughing. “For anybody that truly wants to be a nurse, believe in yourself. Believe in the journey and set your mind that this is something you really want to do. Every day we need more and more nurses and more people that are compassionate and caring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” McGuire said. “It’s hard work, it is extremely hard work. It is a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of tears and a lot of anxiety, but in the end, it is worth it. It is all worth it.”
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.