Health Matters: Cancer survivor becomes Oncology Nurse to help others fighting cancer


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- A cancer survivor is now on a mission to help others fight the same battle she overcame.

“It was pretty grave, and we were just devastated,” says Bob Burchfield, Ann Marie’s Father.

Bob and Jeannie Burchfield remember the moment they received news no parent wants to hear. Their daughter Ann Marie Mahan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Diffuse Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“She had cancer from head to toe. She had four brain tumors, she had tumors up and down her spinal column,” says Burchfield.

It was in every organ except for one lung, stomach and heart. The Burchfields first knew something was wrong with Ann Marie during a basketball game her senior year in high school.

“I was uncoordinated, I used to make almost every shot and then I got to where I just couldn’t hit anything,” says Ann Marie Mahan, Cancer Survivor and Baptist Health RN.

Even after 30 trips to the doctor that year, Ann Marie was still tired and in pain. In April 2017, doctors finally determined it was cancer.

“Honestly relief. Because for years every doctor I went to told me there was nothing wrong with me,” says Ann Marie.

The same day Ann Marie received her diagnosis, she got accepted to nursing school. She made a decision that day, cancer was not going to stop her from becoming a nurse.

“When I was diagnosed they said ‘you have a week to live, a four percent chance of living that week, and there’s nothing we can do for you here,” she said.

Ann Marie’s faith is what carried her through treatment and remission. Coming from a family of medicine, she knew becoming an oncology nurse was her calling.

“My patient says ‘nobody understands. I have pancreatic cancer.’ I’d say I’ve had pancreatic cancer so I can understand and I can be there with you.”

Ann Marie says she wants to be someone her patients can relate to, someone they can lean on for encouragement, prayer and hope during treatment and recovery.

“It’s just a blessing to me that I get every day to come to people like me and just spread God and hope to them,” says Ann Marie.

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