A long-time dream of Montana Brown, 24, just came true when she joined the same hospital as a nurse, where she was treated for cancer – twice. Last week, Montana started working as a nurse at AFLAC Cancer Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the same hospital that saved her life.
When Montana was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of childhood cancer that targets connective tissues in the body like muscles, fat, bones, the linings of joints, and blood vessels. She spent a year going through chemotherapy at the AFLAC Cancer Center. All the while, she said, her parents tried to help her have a normal life, watching movies while she was in the hospital.
By the time Montana reached high school, she had been active in competitive gymnastics and competitive cheerleading for years. The Brown family got another shocking news at the end of Montana’s freshman year: The 15-year-old had cancer again.
After her second diagnosis, Montana went back to the hospital for chemo. She went to the hospital every week, she said. She also learned from doctors that she’d have to stop gymnastics and cheerleading.
Montana said it was those encounters with nurses as a toddler and then years later as a teenager that pushed her to decide nursing was her calling.
“The nurses here, as great as they were when I was 2 — from what my mom says — they were extremely loving and caring and compassionate. And, just the love they showed me and my family in our time of need just really helped me,” she said.
Now, Montana said, she hopes to be a source of hope and inspiration for children battling cancer at the AFLAC Cancer Center.
“I really wanted to be that person where when I said, ‘Hey, I totally understand. This is where I was. This is where I am now.’ That me and my patients would form a bond,” she said. “I’m not walking through the doors as a patient anymore. I am walking through as a staff member.”