‘I Get It’: Cancer Nurse and Survivor Brings Personal Experience to the Job

October 26, 2017 7:00 AM

A Michigan Medicine oncology nurse spent decades helping patients with cancer. Now a survivor herself, she has gained new perspective on the experience.


Kim Zapor, R.N., has spent most of her 35-year career helping cancer patients and their families seek answers.

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The oncology nurse and representative for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer AnswerLine has long used knowledge and empathy to provide excellent care.

But Zapor gained added clarity after being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2016. The disease, she learned, had spread to her lymph nodes and would require chemotherapy.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women; 1 in 8 will develop it.

Zapor, who is still receiving treatment, is back in the job she loves and with a deeper perspective.

“I think until you actually have to go through it, you really emotionally cannot understand what patients go through,” she says.

Now, when answering phone calls about treatments such as chemotherapy, Zapor can relate even more.

“I get it,” she says. “I think I am a little more present for them, a little more aware, and I can really address those issues probably a little bit better just because of my own experience.”

To reach an oncology nurse at the Cancer AnswerLine, call 800-865-1125.