Vaccinator, volunteer and all-round inspiration

Since qualifying as an NMC-registered nurse in September 2019, Dellanie Nash, BSc (Hons) Interprofessional Learning (Adult Nursing) 2019, has continued to push herself, sacrificing her time and energy to support the NHS and local community. She was one of the first to put herself forward as a COVID-19 vaccinator, working on the frontline, while supporting her young daughter at home through her cancer battle. With an incredibly positive attitude in the face of adversity, Dellanie is a true inspiration and a real Christ Church hero!

When COVID-19 hit, you decided to be a fighting force in tackling the pandemic, why did you decide to volunteer as a vaccinator?

It didn’t take long for me to decide to get involved in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The pandemic is a world problem and to mobilise the world, it starts with individuals like me who were/are in the position to make a real difference. It involved sacrificing time, all my weekends for 18 months. This meant not seeing my family. But we were able to take the positives from the situation, and I made sure I spent quality time with my family whenever possible. I got 100% support from my husband, my children, parents, in-laws, friends and work colleagues. I managed to build friendships with fellow vaccinators and the camaraderie is phenomenal.

Given the nature of being a vaccinator, how did you manage your anxiety about COVID-19?

Yes, there were a lot of apprehension regarding catching COVID-19, especially as I have my daughter Maya at home, who is a high-risk child. I took all the precautions (mask, hand washing/gel/social distancing/ventilation etc) at all times and ensured I was up-to-date with the guidance and training. I am a very positive-minded person hence instead of worrying about things beyond my control, I shift my energy to constantly do what I can with what I have and where I am. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

My daughter Maya, who has been on a precarious cancer journey, inspires me the most. Indeed, we beat cancer ‘by how we live and in the manner in which we live’ (quote from Stuart Scott).

On 5 April 2017, while I was studying at Christ Church, our family was turned upside down after our then 3-year old daughter Maya was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma in her left adrenal. It is an aggressive childhood cancer, 50% of children treated for the cancer relapse, after which their chance of survival reduces to just 10%.

Unfortunately, Maya’s tumour spread to several parts of her body and over a 3-year period,  she endured toxic treatments in the UK which included many cycles of chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplant, high-dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy, differentiation therapy and immunotherapy.

I worked with the Solving Kid’s Cancer charity, to establish the Maya Nash Appeal to raise £199,000 to help her access ground-breaking treatment in New York which could help prevent any a future relapse. 

How do you manage to stay positive?

Naturally we were (and still are) distraught. But the negative feelings never stay long with us, we never allow it. For us, hope is important right now because it can make the challenging present moment less difficult to bear. By believing that tomorrow will be better, we can bear the hardship today. Never-ending optimism is the foundation of our courage. Some folks go through life pleased that the glass is half full. Others spend a lifetime lamenting that it’s half-empty. The truth is: there is a glass with a certain volume of liquid in it. So from there, it’s really up to you!

How, on top of all your work and personal commitments, do you find time to support and inspire the next generation of medical students?

I enjoy volunteering for Christ Church – it is a fun sociable way of giving something to a university which had such an impact on my life – as well as making a difference to the lives of others and helping individuals and the community in a selfless way. I feel valued being part of the team, therefore providing me with a healthy boost to my self-confidence, self-esteem, satisfaction, accomplishment, sense of pride and identity. I am hoping that my professional skills and knowledge can benefit others too.

Finally what does the future hold for you?

Since qualifying, I am now specialised in Diabetes, Hypertension and Obesity Management for our patients in our GP surgery. I am also one of the Learning Disability Champions at our practice. I am doing a lot of short courses to gain competence and skills for Heart Failure and Menopause (Women’s Health).  The epidemics of diabetes and obesity is directly contributing to the rising number of heart failure patients. In addition, there seems to be a huge gap in knowledge surrounding women’s health, and the stigma attached to ageing in women. It is a challenging but exciting time for Practice Nurses (like me) as there has been an increasing trend for higher demands for advanced nurses due to GP shortages. Indeed, I am lifetime learner.