Dalton Noakes found his future in a way he did not expect. That perspective not only helps him, but his patients.
CLEVELAND — Dalton Noakes is about to finish school at Case Western Reserve University and become a registered nurse. His reason wasn't really a calling, but a profound encounter.
While studying business his freshman year at The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, Dalton noticed a lump on his neck. He went to the student health center and met a nurse practitioner.
"She ended up sending me to the emergency room. And then when I got to the ER, they did scans and ran tests and then that's when I found out it was Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I had to go on a year's medical leave for chemotherapy and radiation," Dalton recalls.
Days later, the nurse practitioner reached out to check on him. That compassion made a big impact on Dalton. "The fact that she cared enough and had the presence of mind to follow up with me afterwards to be like, 'Hey, are you doing okay?'"
When Dalton returned to school, he thought about becoming a doctor. But the idea didn't click.
"So I thought, 'maybe I'll be a nurse.' I loved all of my nurses and I loved getting to spend time with them, because I mean, when you're going through chemo and you're sitting there for six to eight hours, you see them the most. They're the ones who are with you when you're going through this," Dalton says.
That first nurse practitioner became Dalton's caregiver. She discovered cancer a second time. It was thyroid cancer cured with surgery.
"Just the fact that she was there for it all and she showed me that she cared and that she was willing to go that extra mile, just really impacted me," Dalton adds. "It made me know that I want to be a nurse, that I want to be a nurse practitioner and I want to be like her."
When Dalton's classes brought him to the oncology floor at University Hospitals' Seidman Cancer Center, he felt his calling. While he doesn't always share his story with patients, he can certainly relate to them.
Dalton is able to provide practical advice from a survivor's standpoint. He knows being an oncology nurse is where he's meant to be.
"Being able to be there with my patients in the moments of diagnosis, it is an honor and a privilege that I think I will forever be grateful for," Dalton says proudly.