Even after 23 years of nursing Heather Ebron knows caring for others is more than just a job. For her it’s a zealous pursuit extending beyond the walls of Duke Cancer Center — in fact, perhaps even to the outer ends of the earth.
Heather Ebron, RN, BSN, OCN, a clinical nurse II, DCI Triage, will finally embark on her life’s dream to provide compassionate care to underserved populations abroad. She has signed on as a volunteer this summer with Team Tampa Bay Missions, Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit providing medical care to impoverished communities in the United States and around the world.
“I had hoped to go last year,” said Ebron, who received her nursing degree in 1993 from East Carolina University. “I had just bought a house and was settling in. As fate would have it, I took a tumble down the stairs of my new home, badly injuring my shoulder. Sadly, I had to cancel the trip.”
Ebron will join a team of volunteer nurses from across the U.S. who together will provide medical services and educational activities to members of a batey, a village located just outside the sugar cane fields where the local men work.
Ebron first decided to pursue a nursing degree when she was a freshman in college. At the time her grandfather was battling renal cell cancer and Ebron was inspired by the “incredible” care he received.
“My grandfather’s nurses were game changers,” remembered Ebron, breaking out into a broad smile. “They were not only comforting and compassionate with my grandfather, but also with us – his family. This made a huge impact on my life. It means everything to me now to be able to provide that same care, compassion and comfort to others diagnosed with cancer.”
The nursing team will leave for La Romana, Dominican Republic, July 29 and return August 6. Nurses raise funds or pay their own way at a cost of $1,550 per person. Each nurse is encouraged to bring medical supplies and personal hygiene items, such as vitamins, cough and cold medicine, Benadryl, Zyrtec and Claritin, bandages, antibacterial ointments, acetaminophen, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Ebron’s colleagues are already at work collecting items for her mission trip.
“Heather is a special soul,” said Heather Sperling, MSN, RN, OCN, nurse manager for the Women's Cancer Clinic 2-2, 2-3 and Centralized Triage. “Her compassion and empathy for her patients, their loved ones and every living soul is inspiring. This mission trip has been a long awaited dream come true. Heather is truly an example of someone living out the Duke Health Values.”
Ebron believes everyone can be a role model and a mentor. Those nurses of yesteryear continue to inspire and motivate her today. She hopes that she, too, can make an impact on the lives of others here, and beyond.
Ebron understands that not everyone can embark on a mission trip abroad. However, she is encouraged and buoyed by those who have offered to help. She is inviting friends, family and colleagues to team up with her to support her outreach efforts.
“In giving, everyone plays a role in helping to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate,” said Ebron.
To donate to support Heather Ebron’s mission trip, visit You Caring. Ebron is also accepting donations, both medical and personal hygiene items. All medications must be in their original container, unopened and not expired. To provide donations of medical or personal hygiene items, please contact Heather Ebron.
Duke Cancer Institute nurses and nurses across the nation will celebrate National Nurses Week 2017 May 6 through May 12. The American Nurses Association has designated 2017 as the “Year of the Healthy Nurse.”
Duke University Health System Values:
Caring for our patients, their loved ones, and each other