Sarah BrunsC.V.T. Radiation Oncology
In 2012, I found what I needed here at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital as a radiation oncology nurse. It was like coming home. I would be working with an exceptional team to provide the very best care to a special group of patients.
I grew up in the Texas countryside, around Sam Houston National Forest near Houston. We had a large farm, so I grew up with lots of critters large and small: horses, dogs, cats, guinea fowl, geese; as well as wildlife such as raccoons, turtles and snakes. My older brother and I were outdoor kids. From the time we got out of school until time for dinner, we were outside playing, exploring, making up our own games. I also had a leased horse on which I was training for the show circuit, an Arabian mix named Silver. Silver was a top ten Reserve National Champion and I absolutely adored him.
Dad was in aviation and, when I was in junior high, the family transferred to a small town just outside of Wichita Kansas named Valley Center. I was devastated at having to leave Silver, my trainer and my plans for a horse show career. My mother was sure I would grow out of it, but within the year my parents had made arrangements to purchase Silver and trailer him to Kansas. I was thrilled to have my best friend back and to continue training and competing.
In high school I worked after school in veterinary clinics to learn about what I hoped would be my future career. Thanks to Silver, I was awarded several college scholarships and entered Kansas State University as a pre-veterinary major. Silver and I traveled together to KSU. Most of my classes were exciting, especially science, but I struggled to find my niche.
In my junior year, I found a summer job at Aspen Lodge in Estes Park, Colorado, giving riding lessons to guest's children. Silver happily went from high-gloss show horse to a casual, rugged trail horse. By midsummer, I called my parents to say I was staying in Colorado because I had found where I wanted to be. I enrolled in a newly-accredited veterinary technology program at the community college in Fort Collins and immediately knew I had made the right decision. For me, it's all about the direct, hands-on, patient care rather than being the diagnostician.
As part of the coursework, I spent two semesters here at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, rotating through each department for two weeks. In the summer, Silver and I still worked in Estes Park at the Lodge and, after graduation and passing my certification exam, we moved to Whitefish, Montana. For the next twelve years, I worked at a specialty animal hospital in Whitefish and Silver began to enjoy retirement.
Then, just a few weeks apart in 2011, I lost my very best friend, Janice and my beloved Silver. My family helped me through this terrible time as I decided I needed to start fresh somewhere else. I reconnected with friends in Colorado, submitted my resignation at work, sold my house and loaded up my dog, Luna, and my cat, Neko, and returned to Fort Collins.
Grief is such a complex process and highly individual, varying from person to person and shaped by circumstances. I began to question whether or not I wanted to continue working at a career I used to love. Should I pursue teaching? Go back to school? What did I really want to do with the rest of my life?
I know how it feels to be an oncology client. While planning my move to Colorado, my dog Luna was diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma followed by bladder carcinoma. Our radiation oncology patients deserve to have a good experience so we calm their fears and spoil them with lots of attention for as long as they are in our care. Knowing that they are also giving us an opportunity to learn more about cancer, and translate it to other species, makes them even more deserving of special treatment.
I have put down roots here, at work and at home. My family is close enough that we visit regularly. I have a strong network of friends and a beautiful backyard of mountains, foothills, lakes, and reservoirs to enjoy. When not at work, I love to get outside with my new new pup, Arlo, to hike, bike, and kayak and generally appreciate everything I have in my life.