Joan Akahomen was a single mom in nursing school when she was diagnosed with aggressive colorectal cancer.
"I was crying and crying after my first diagnosis because my son was only 9 years old at the time,” Akahomen recalled, glancing down at the chemotherapy port scars on her chest.
She underwent treatment in 2012 and again in 2015 at AdventHealth, a nationally recognized hospital for colon cancer surgery by U.S. News and World Report. After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to remove nearly 2 feet of her colon, Akahomen was finally declared cancer free.
Finishing nursing school was her next mission.
“I promised God, ‘If you give me a second chance to live, I’m going to go back to school, I’m going to become a nurse and I’m going to take care of people the way I was taken care of,’” Akahomen said.
She explained how her compassionate physicians and nurses at AdventHealth deepened her resolve. “During my low moments, my nurses were firm and pushed me to survive for my son. My doctor said, ‘Joan, I've got you in the palm of my hand. I'm going to connect you to our doctors who will take good care of you,’” she said.
Akahomen graduated from Herzing University’s School of Nursing in 2022 and became a team member at AdventHealth shortly after. Today, she’s a registered nurse on AdventHealth Winter Park’s oncology special care unit, where she inspires patients every day that they can beat cancer like she did.
“It gives our patients great comfort having a nurse who knows what it feels like,” said Dr. Teresa deBeche-Adams, a colorectal surgeon at AdventHealth who cared for Akahomen while she was sick. “I think it speaks volumes as to how well our nurses and doctors took care of her that she wanted to be part of the AdventHealth team. It’s kind of like coming home.”