Following in her mother’s footsteps, Kendra MacDonald knew at a young age she wanted to become a nurse. “My mother loved her nursing job so much and I think that’s what got me started,” says Kendra who is a Registered Nurse and the Nurse Navigator in the Cancer Centre at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Graduating in 2009 from York University, she worked at another hospital before starting at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital in 2014 in the Palliative Care Unit and the Admissions Assessment Unit. In 2018 she completed the Provincial Standardized Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course and moved to the Cancer Centre in July of 2018. Shortly after, she took over the newly created role of Nurse Navigator of the Cancer Centre.

“There is no such thing as a “typical” day for me, every day is different and usually very busy.”

“I work very closely with the oncologists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, clinic nurses, and administrative assistants to organize any interventions that patients may need, this includes organizing assessments in the clinic, blood work or diagnostic testing required, sending prescriptions, and setting up home care if needed,” says Kendra. “I also do follow-up phone calls with patients who have just started oral chemotherapy, are on immunotherapy or general follow up on any unwell patients requested by myself, the oncologist or nurse practitioners.”

Kendra has found her passion in caring for patients in the Cancer Centre. “I learn more every day and it’s an amazing feeling when that new information is something I can use to continue to help the patients. Being a nurse to me means being there for the patients, whether as a medical professional, an advocate, a listening ear, or as a shoulder to cry on. Whatever I can do to make their experience better, more comfortable, or in some cases, just being a friendly voice on the other end of the phone.”

Although working in the Cancer Centre isn’t always easy as patients are faced with a life-changing diagnosis, chemotherapy treatment, and navigating a difficult health journey, Kendra is always inspired by the strength of patients. “The patients themselves are very inspiring. They are going through a very difficult journey, and I am honoured to be a part of that. What I look forward to the most is each time a patient lets me know how much I have helped them. Knowing that I made even a small difference in someone’s day, keeps me motivated.”

Kendra doesn’t only give back to patients and the community, she is an animal lover who has rescued two dogs and two cats. She has also taken up fostering cats in her spare time.

“In the summer my favourite pastime is to ride my motorcycle,” says Kendra. “There can be a lot of stressful days as a nurse, there is nothing like a motorcycle ride to clear my mind and refresh myself.”

“I would like to highlight ALL the amazing nurses in the Cancer Centre, says Kendra. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their help. They are so supportive and always go above and beyond for our patients.”

Nursing Week is from May 9 to 13 and we will be celebrating with a week full of activities. Please visit Acorn to see the calendar of events and don’t forget to wish our extraordinary nurses, a happy Nursing Week!