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Spotlight: Honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Rhiannon Mirante

Darian Khalilpour
Author: Darian Khalilpour
Date: October 19, 2023
Tags: Diversity, Healthcare, Inclusion, Spotlight, Staffing

At Amergis Healthcare Staffing, our team members are at the heart of everything we do. Each month, our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) board highlights the story of an Amergis employee who demonstrates our core values for healthcare professionals and their patients.

In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our D&I team spoke with Rhiannon Mirante, a Business Development Manager in Washington, to learn about her breast cancer journey, how the disease impacted her, and her experience at Amergis as a breast cancer survivor.

Q&A with Rhiannon

Would you share with us your cancer journey?

I was diagnosed in November 2022 after my primary care physician found an abnormal lump (get checked, ladies!). Following four biopsies, multiple ultrasounds and MRIs, and genetic testing – my care team at the University of Washington let me know that I had triple positive breast cancer, meaning it was progesterone, estrogen, and HER2 positive. While being the most aggressive form of breast cancer, it has a very high survival rate and responds well to treatment when found early. After a race to freeze my eggs and four weeks of treatment planning, I began my 16 rounds of chemotherapy in December 2022, followed by surgery and 20 rounds of radiation this summer. I got the opportunity to “ring the bell” in August of this year and only have two more immunotherapy infusions, at which point they’ll do my post-treatment scans and hopefully gift me the official “remission” stamp!

Are there any common misconceptions about breast cancer?

YES! One of the many things I learned throughout this journey is that there are many different types of breast cancer and different treatment plans that pertain to each. Also – it is not as life-altering as you see in the movies. Many women work through their treatment and carry on with their life, while modified, just fine. Even women with Stage 4 diagnoses can live a long, fulfilling life. Every woman’s journey is different. Science is incredible, and the treatment options today are much different and more advanced than they were 5-10 years ago.

Tell us about your experience as a breast cancer survivor in the workplace.

It was a rollercoaster at first with all of the appointments (I have had 92 in-person appointments since November!). However, my office and leadership team were incredibly supportive and understanding. I could not have done any of this without their constant positivity, “Pink Wednesdays” and teamwork. Work was a welcome distraction and kept my brain engaged and focused on something that I COULD control while my physical health felt so OUT of control. I will be forever grateful for my [Amergis] Family.

How did your diagnosis and treatment affect your career?

At first, it felt like my career was going to be forced to be put on hold. However, you’d be surprised what your body is capable of. I stayed locked in on my team’s success, spread goals, and client relationships until I went on leave this summer when my amazing Seattle team stepped up without missing a beat. This journey, more than anything, has given me incredible insight into what our amazing nurses are doing day in and day out for patients across the country. The cancer center that I received care at is actually one of our clients here in Seattle. Getting to experience “the other side” has really solidified my WHY and shed new light on what we all do here as well as our company’s core values. Getting out of bed every day to come to work at [Amergis] feels so much different now, in the best way.

What resources were helpful to you during your journey? Both personally and in the workplace.

There were so many resources that were helpful along the way. Personally, my friends and family were my oxygen. They were there every step of the way, and I will be forever thankful for that. My care team at Fred Hutch was amazing as well. I had a 24/7 nurse that I could call with anything big or small and even had a handful of [Amergis] employees (mammotechs and RNs) that were part of my care team, which was so cool. [Amergis] also provided amazing resources from day one, including our insurance benefits, health saving account through Optum, and the amazing Leave of Absence program we offer. It was so nice to know that I had the safety of my job to come back to while being able to focus on recovery and getting my health back.

What advice would you give to other individuals who are facing breast cancer?

Take things one step at a time! It is incredibly overwhelming to get a scary diagnosis of any type of disease needing treatment. One year of treatment sounded very daunting. The best advice I received was to only focus on one day at a time. Cancer is a roller coaster physically and emotionally, so having tunnel vision to the next day and only the next day really helped. Also – lean on the strong women in your life! Girl power is a real thing.

Final words to share!

One of the most influential quotes that have stuck with me through this journey is “What a life”. This is one of my good friends’ token one-liners, and it sure hits differently now. It has a new meaning and I wear it on a bracelet that was gifted to me every day. It has taught me to appreciate all the little things, to never postpone joy, and to be grateful for all that life has to offer. Life is short. Do what makes you happy, be a positive light to those around you, and work hard so that you can play hard.

Come Make a Difference with the Amergis Healthcare Staffing Team

Amergis Staffing always has a wide range of available opportunities for people who are ready to accelerate their careers. We embrace employees from all different backgrounds and always strive to foster a welcoming work environment by following our core values of:

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • Winning with integrity and trust.
  • Prioritizing quality.
  • Investing in development.
  • Championing innovation.
  • Driving for results.

Learn how you can join the Amergis Staffing team by reaching out online today.

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