N.W.T. nurse-in-training with lung issues says COVID-19 confirms her career choice

·3 min read
N.W.T. nurse-in-training with lung issues says COVID-19 confirms her career choice

Shiri MacPherson has had some trouble breathing for almost as long as she can remember.

As a child, she went a few rounds with cancer and it affected her lungs.

Back in 2017, she said it started with pulmonary issues and she had tumours in her lungs that needed to be treated with surgery. At the time, she said her lungs were smaller than they were supposed to be.

Not much has changed since then, MacPherson said.

"There's not much you can do with lungs like that. I learned quite a bit over the last few years around how to live around it and how to work with my lungs," MacPherson told CBC.

Her pre-existing condition puts her firmly within the high-risk category when it comes to COVID-19.

But it hasn't stopped her wanting to care for others.

MacPherson is a nursing student and she's been waiting eagerly for her turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine since the start of the pandemic.

Submitted by Shiri MacPherson
Submitted by Shiri MacPherson

She said the start of the pandemic in March 2020 was "terrifying."

She was working at a hospital in Ontario as part of her nursing training.

"Everyone was kind of confused about what was going to happen, what was going to be shut down, what wasn't going to be shutdown [and] what role we as nursing students are going to be playing," she said.

"It was all just about figuring out how we could get through each day."

The waiting game

Now back in Yellowknife, MacPherson says she's looking forward to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but it has felt like a long stretch.

"When you're waiting for something as big as getting the vaccine for this virus, every day feels like a week. But I am thankful I'm back in the Northwest Territories now," she said.

"I know that the vaccine here is happening much quicker than if I was still in Ontario … and I'm grateful that we have access to as many doses as we do. And although it is you know, a wait, it's a wait I'm thankful for."

Grace Clark, a friend of Shiri MacPherson, sings a song to her back in 2017:

Confirms her career choice

But when it comes to her decision to be a nurse and work on the medical front lines, she says the pandemic has just further created a sense of love and excitement for her chosen career.

"It really makes you see how big of a risk and how big of a toll being a nurse during certain times can take," MacPherson said.

"I went into nursing school knowing that it was the right choice and this pandemic has only made that choice even more clear."

She's already helped medical teams fighting the battle against COVID-19. After coming home when the pandemic first hit, she said she went back down to Ontario for a while, to help support medical teams there.

"I worked really on the front lines and in pretty much the hardest hit places during this pandemic," she said.

"I guess that's the person I want to be. You know, I want to be the one that's there for people during these challenging times."