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Interior Cancer Journal

Profiles in Caring

Cherryl Lourdes D. Resilla, RN, OCN

As a young girl growing up in Cebu City, Philippines, Cherryl Resilla knew she wanted to be a nurse by the age of five: her brothers were her first “patients.” With her early interest in science and family members who were physicians, nurses and dentists, a career in health care was a natural choice.

“I tagged along during clinic hours and watched my family members take care of patients,” says Resilla, an oncology nurse in the Infusion Suite at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-The Woodlands, “My greatest influence continues to be my aunt – my mom’s sister – who has been a nurse for 40 years and now works in Michigan. I feel really lucky and blessed to have had guidance and a career path laid out for me. I was highly motivated to be a nurse.”

Resilla earned her bachelor’s degree at Cebu Normal University College of Nursing in Cebu City, Philippines, in 1993, and was recognized with an Outstanding Clinical Practice Nurse Award at graduation. She ranked among the top 10 on the national nursing licensure exam and was acknowledged for excellence by the president of the Philippines.

After working as an intensive care and hemodialysis nurse in the Philippines and Hong Kong, Resilla moved to San Francisco in 2002 and began working as a step-down ICU nurse for open heart surgery patients at a trauma center. In 2006, her life changed dramatically.

“I moved to The Woodlands to be close to family,” she says. “When I applied at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, there were no vacancies for positions in either the ICU or step-down unit. The medical oncology floor had just opened and they needed a full-time nurse on the day shift. It was a blessing in disguise. I had a personal interest in oncology because we have a strong family history of cancer, so I was very enthusiastic about being trained in a new practice of nursing. I looked at cancer patients holistically and dedicated myself to oncology from then on.”

Resilla became an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) in March 2014. “What I like most about oncology nursing is the challenge of caring for patients in a fast-moving discipline with a range of opportunities,” she says. “You can be a direct caregiver, an educator, a consultant and a researcher.”

Cherryl and Michelle

Cherryl Lourdes D. Resilla (left) and Michelle Cagaoan are both Oncology Certified Nurses who work in the Infusion Suite at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital.

She believes she learns more from her patients than they learn from her.

“Oncology patients live through a very intense experience, and I want to do the best I can to help them. They’ve taught me not to sweat the small stuff when there are so many greater things to worry about. I’ve learned to look beyond myself and be more caring, and to spend more time with family. My patients have taught me to be a better person. I feel very fulfilled in knowing that every time I come to work, I’m making a difference.”

Michelle Cagaoan, RN, OCN

In choosing nursing as a career, Michelle Cagaoan was influenced by family members in the same profession. Today, as an oncology nurse in the Infusion Suite at the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-The Woodlands, she administers chemotherapy, provides support and supportive treatments, and educates her patients.

Cagaoan received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Cebu Normal University College of Nursing in Cebu City, Philippines, in 1998. After working as a staff nurse for two years in the Philippines, she relocated to Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, where she practiced nursing at Calderdale Royal Hospital. It was there that she met and married Jay Cagaoan, who also is a nurse. After three years in England, the couple moved to Port St. Lucie, Fla., in 2003, where she had her first opportunity to work in an oncology unit. In 2006, they moved to Texas, and she joined the oncology nursing staff at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital.

“Hearing the word cancer is a dark moment for patients and their families,” says Cagaoan, whose older sister is a patient care coordinator at St. Lucie Medical Center in Florida. “It’s something we all fear, and we know that many of our patients face a tough journey ahead. I want to be here to help them through it. Whatever my patients are struggling with, I’m part of making them feel better through support and education.”

Cagaoan became an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) in March 2014. Certification provides patients and their families with validation that the nurse caring for them has demonstrated experience, knowledge and skills in the complex specialty of oncology.

“My patients make me a stronger person,” she says. “I learn from them every day by watching them stay positive no matter what they’re going through. As one of my patients once told me, ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.’”