A nursing student was inspired by the faith of her late mother

Nursing student Megan Mason, who is due to graduate from GCU in December, had to endure her mother’s losing battle with cancer while attending the program. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Editor’s Note: National Nurses Week began Friday, May 6 and will continue through Thursday, May 12. In honor of the dedication shown daily by so many wonderful nurses who are GCU alumni, here is the touching story of a student who plans to join their ranks soon.

By Cassandra Coria
GCU News Desk

“I think everyone should live like a sloth” Megan Mason said happily.

His roommate had given him a book about sloths on a life-changing trip, describing how quickly sloths live their lives.

Megan Mason (right) learned a lot from her mother, Nikki Brown, especially what it means to have a relationship with God.

“Live more like a sloth. It slowed me down more than I want to admit because our society is moving so fast,” she says.

Mason’s progress at Grand Canyon University was hardly lazy. She is on track to graduate from the nursing program in December.

But she endured a hard lesson in patience and perseverance over the past three years as her mother, Nikki Brown, battled stage 3C ovarian cancer, which means cancer cells had spread from her ovaries to nearby tissues.

Through all the suffering, however, Nikki delivered a much more important lesson – a lesson based on faith.

“When my mother was in palliative care, I asked her, ‘What do you want me to tell the others?'”

Nikki’s response, delivered with such intent: “I want people to know it’s a relationship with God, not a religion.”

Mason started the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions program on the main campus last fall. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

A faith-based journey

Mason and his family battled his mother’s cancer like any family, but Nikki’s relationship with God turned the journey into an inspiring tale.

“I feel like a lot of us put it in a box,” Mason said. “In middle school, we always listed our priorities – number one, God; number two, family. I always put God first, but I realized that God is in everything. As you mature in your faith, it begins to bleed into all areas of your life.

Megan’s fascination with the human body led her to become a nurse, but it crushed her when she was a substitute at first – she desperately wanted good news for her mother, who was in hospice.

Like most GCU students, she cooks her own food in her apartment and takes an energy drink whenever she can. She wants to become a nurse partly because she has always been interested in the human body.

“It’s the only thing made in the image of God,” she says.

With her love for science and human creation, her next steps were to enter the GCU nursing program. But after applying, she was placed as a substitute.

“It crushed my world,” she said. “Mom was already in hospice care and I was trying to bring home some good news.”

Being a locum meant there was no place for her in the traditional nursing program on the main campus.

Her options were to take a semester off and wait to reapply, apply to another nursing program, change specialties, or see if she would qualify for GCU’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program. in Sun City or Tucson. Students in the 16-month program, designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field or who have already earned college credit, complete their courses online and then head to ABSN sites for lab experiments and immersive simulation.

“I prayed about it,” she said. “We don’t always know what’s best for us – we might think so. I was glad it wasn’t my choice. It was entirely in the hands of God.

By the grace of God, Megan has been accepted to pursue the nursing program beginning in the fall of 2021 at the main campus.

Mason’s faith is an important part of his life. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Their bond was unbreakable

Megan’s relationship with her mother was special.

“Everyone has always called me their mini-me,” Megan said with the slightest eye roll.

Megan considers herself a “carbon copy” of her mother.

But she admits, “I’m a carbon copy of her.”

When Megan was born, Nikki looked at her daughter and said, “It’s going to be fun.”

The classic mother-daughter bond was unbreakable.

“My mom always said, ‘We’re just best friends.

Megan would respond, “OK, but you’re also my mom.”

“OK, I’ll be more like a mom. Go and do the dishes,” Nikki would reply, but she would regularly change her mind and do it herself.

After 19 years of being treated by her mother, the tables were turned. In 2021, Megan and her stepfather, Terrell Brownwere Nikki’s full-time caregivers.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how bad things were,” she said. “I’d come to school and they’d say, ‘We’re doing bed positioning for bed patients who can’t move.’ I had just made it that morning for my mother, who cannot move and eat.

The other students quickly noticed how competent Megan was. They were like, “Dang, Megan, you’re really good.”

“But it was something I had to do for her every day,” Mason said with a shrug.

Sometimes she had to leave the class because the things she was learning or doing were a constant reminder of her mother’s suffering.

“There was no reason for this to happen to her. Nothing is right in our family. She was a perfectly healthy mother.

However, she had to remind herself, “God has a purpose, and it’s all going to be that way.”

Mason marveled at his mother’s sunny outlook as the cancer progressed. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Let go and let God

As the cancer progressed, Megan’s family discovered that her body was resistant to plasma. This means that the medicine she would take would help her for a while, but over time her body became immune to the medicine.

A biblical passage from Psalm 23 that his mother had shared with him triggered a realization through this journey:

Toward the end of her cancer battle, Nikki told Megan, “I just want to fall asleep and stay asleep.”

You lay a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my heads with oil; my cup is overflowing. Surely your goodness and your love will follow me all the days of my life and will dwell forever in the house of the Lord.

“You feel it and then you hand it over to God because those things don’t come from Him,” Mason said. “It was we who did not allow the enemy to sit at the table.”

Nikki had to wear compression socks on her legs due to excessive swelling. With the fluid in his body, it moved to his chest. She was afraid of feeling pain and was afraid of suffocating.

“Something that occurred to me to tell him was that God had allowed him to suffer for two years, but I truly felt that God was right in all that suffering,” Mason said. “When she was dead, there would be no reason to feel this pain. It would have no purpose.”

Nikki would say over and over again, “I just want to fall asleep and stay asleep.”

“And that’s what happened,” Mason said of her mother’s passing on Sept. 29, 2021. “Throughout her journey, I would see her grow and trust in God. The catches that she had to loosen up – I saw her surrendering her whole being to God.

“One of the most powerful things my mother taught me was to live centered in heaven and not earth. When I live and I don’t focus on the things of this world, like the nursing Although he is intimidating, he becomes so much smaller.

“If we have an earthly perspective, death seems to be the end. When I live a heaven-centered life, it’s simply an outlet I have to glorify God. The only thing that really matters here is building your relationship with God and sharing his love with others.

“Towards the end of her life, I told her that I had a lot to be grateful for because she had introduced me to God. It’s hard not to have her here, but I know that she is more alive than she has ever been.

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