Medical diagnosis prompts 39-year-old woman to become a nurse

Irene Richardson is a recent graduate of UNCG and used her medical diagnosis to push her forward.

GREENSBORO, NC — Many mothers were celebrated on Sunday.

A mother showed her children that no matter what happens to you in life, you can succeed.

WFMY News 2 Amber Lake spoke to a college graduate who didn’t let a diagnosis stop her from getting a degree.

A few days ago, UNCG students walked across the stage to collect their diplomas.

Among the graduates was Irene Richardson, 39.

In 2015, Richardson was diagnosed with something called neuromyelitis optica, a disease that affects the nervous system and has no cure.

“I was on a business trip, and I woke up and I couldn’t move my arms from my legs. I use my voice recognition to call for help. The doctors, at first, thought it was was just fatigue and exhaustion, the stress of working too many hours, working too hard,” she explained.

Richardson said she felt defeated and didn’t know what her future would be like. The nurses who helped care for her inspired her, and it was this inspiration that prompted Richardson to change careers.

“I just wanted to follow in their footsteps and maybe be that change for someone else to help them through their tough times; we’re all going to go through something at some point. And I knew having the right people on your side can make a huge difference,” Richardson said.

Amid a pandemic, a nursing shortage and a difficult diagnosis, Richardson decided that since her nurses had changed her life, she now wanted to change someone else’s life as a nurse.

“We’ve watched what nurses are going through. And we want them to know that they’ve inspired us. And we come to empower and support them,” she said.

So Richardson took on the job of a full-time nursing student, while being a full-time wife and mother, working full-time and also dealing with a full-time illness that doesn’t take days off. .

From entering Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist to receive his diagnosis, entering the lab at Cone Health to work every day, and now crossing the stage at UNCG, grabbing the degree that will help him help others.

“I just want people to realize that you can do, you can have the life you dreamed of. Your diagnosis is not a definition of you. You can do things – because of a – not despite a disability. “

Richardson will begin working in the emergency department at Duke Hospital at the end of July.

She receives a chemotherapy agent and infusions every few months to manage her disease.