Tag Archives: inspiration

Peace Amidst the Storm: Annie Welton Lyman and Davin Lyman’s Journey through Thyroid Cancer

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Annie Lyman and Davin Lyman are wonderful examples of strengthening your faith during trials; Photo provided by Annie Lyman

By Lyndee Johns

Last March, nursing student Annie Welton and pre-med student Davin Lyman had their world rocked by two words.

Thyroid cancer.

This wasn’t in the plan. They had only been engaged for two weeks. They had been told by the doctors that the tumor that they’d found in Davin’s thyroid was likely not malignant. A 10 percent chance of cancer.

“So finding out was really traumatic. You hear ‘cancer,’ and it’s just overwhelming and scary and so uncertain, and you just kind of feel like everything’s rocked,” says Annie Welton Lyman, now married to Davin Lyman. “But we just knew we had to go one step at a time, one day at a time.”

It’s been 11 months of “one day at a time.”

Davin’s thyroid had to be removed, along with 20 lymph nodes. This led to an ongoing battle for balance through hormone replacement therapy, weekly doctor’s visits, and medication.

But how have the couple gotten through it?

How have they found peace amidst the storm?

The Gospel

Annie credits the gospel for getting her husband and herself through this time.

“We were able to go to the temple every week, and just relying on the knowledge that what we were doing was right. We knew that our education was right. We knew that our marriage was right, like Heavenly Father had just given us that assurance, and continual assurance. And that’s what made it all— not only bearable, because it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy—but it was possible because of that,” says Annie.

Annie says that both her and her husband’s testimonies and their marriage have been strengthened through this ordeal. “It’s given us such beautiful hindsight and such beautiful realization of like, what that did for our marriage, what it did for our careers, what it did for our spirits and our souls and our family.”

The Scholarship

Annie also credits a scholarship given by the BYU College of Nursing for keeping them afloat.

In the midst of Davin’s bout with cancer, the Lymans were struggling to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills, while working and dealing with heavy course loads.

Annie went to the BYU College of Nursing to see if there were any type of scholarships available. Although it was outside of the typical scholarship period, the school was able to utilize the C Scott & Dorothy E Watkins Charitable Foundation Scholarship. “We’re both back to school, and thanks to the scholarship, we’re able to be in school and be practicing. But I don’t know, honestly, without the scholarship, what would have happened because neither of us can take on more work. And I think we would have been stuck,” says Annie.

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Annie Lyman says that her friends in the nursing program were a great support to her; Photo provided by Annie Lyman

Nursing Training

Annie’s time in the nursing program has been invaluable for providing a better understanding of the diagnosis and treatments. “Both of us are in medical professions,” Annie says. “And so I have been spending the past three years learning about the thyroid and the difference between the thyroid and the thymus and the hormones and all that, so it really helped decrease my fear because I had such a better knowledge of what they were saying. So at least when the doctor gave this diagnosis, I could understand ‘This is what that means,’ and understand the hormones and the balancing.”

The nursing program also helped empower Annie by giving her the tools to do her own research. “I just had different avenues that the nursing program taught me, so I was able to work with the doctor and to give my input and my suggestions and thoughts and stuff like that.”  

Empathy is Key

The Lymans’ months of one-on-one time with nurses and doctors have ensured that they have spent a lot of time with what Annie labels “the good examples” and “the bad examples” of nursing.

The vital difference between the two?

Empathy.

“We’ve had some bad examples with people not being empathetic or understanding, just treating it very objectively, which I understand has a time and a place,” Annie says, “But when you just tell someone they have cancer, it’s a fragile thing.”

However, even from the bad examples, Annie was able to learn an important lesson.

“And so that has taught me the importance of being empathetic and personable with every patient because even though to me . . . I may have treated someone with this condition hundreds of times, it’s still important to be empathetic. It’s their first time receiving this diagnosis.”

On the flip side, the “good examples” were the ones that were concerned for both Lymans. “I’ve learned the importance of taking care of not only the patient, but their caregivers and their family,” says Annie. “Because obviously I was not the one going through cancer, but I was just as worried. It was just as emotional. And so when they took the time to talk to me and care for me as well, it made a huge impact. And so it’s really just taught me that nursing is much more personal and every diagnosis is personal.

“And so empathy is important in every single patient and condition.”

Share the Burden

Annie encourages everyone going through a similar condition to share with friends or family members what has been going on.

“Don’t be afraid to let people in . . . Don’t be afraid to tell them about what you’ve been going through. Because I think sometimes we think we’ll feel like a burden, or we’ll feel like we’re trying to get attention, or it might make someone else uncomfortable if we tell them, but really that’s not the case.”

Annie says that sharing with others helped to quickly connect with them. “It helped them feel like they could share what they were going through, and I hope that our experience has helped others as well.”

In addition to friends and family, Annie says to share our burdens with one other vital person: the Savior.

“There were so many times where I had an assignment due, or we had bills to pay, or I was having a meltdown, and I just had to be like ‘Heavenly Father, I have to just give this portion over to you,’ or ‘I have to let go of this stress, I have to let go of this fear.’ And He let me just concentrate on one thing at a time . . . And I felt like He took most of the burden off.”

Storm Is Over

While the Lymans are still trying to navigate the winds of hormone treatments, the storm appears to have ended.

Though remission has yet to officially be declared, the doctors confirm that the cancer was removed with Davin’s thyroid.

“We’re still balancing and then we’ll still continually do biopsies to make sure that it’s still not there, but we’re pretty sure that it’s gone,” Annie says.

Taking everything that they’ve learned from this experience—the medical knowledge, the importance of empathy, the shedding of burdens, and the compassion of the Lord—the Lymans are learning how to help patients of their own in their respective medical fields.

Their ship may not be in the harbor yet, but they are looking towards the future.

Together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

By Corbin Smith

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Tanner is so excited about her first semester at BYU!

As a society, we are captivated by people who don’t let physical limitations control and define their lives. We love hearing about those who don’t accept “you can’t do that” as a valid excuse. Influential figures like President Roosevelt and Stephen Hawking were confined to a wheelchair during their public lives, but did that ever stop them? Never. One of the coolest parts about being a nurse is that you are always surrounded by amazing people that have their own tough yet inspiring circumstances. New BYU College of Nursing faculty member, assistant professor Dr. Corinna Tanner, has dedicated her life to serving this demographic, a group that is especially close to her heart.

As a young girl, Tanner lived a relatively normal life. She went to school and played with her friends, just as any young girl would do. She lived with a small vision impairment, but when she was 14 years old, that impairment began to affect her a lot more. “We had to go to the medical specialists and figure out what it was. It wasn’t that I just needed glasses, I had another type of an eye problem,” Tanner remembers.

As it turns out, Tanner was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a genetic disease that causes progressive damage to the macula, the area of the eye that is responsible for straight-ahead vision. This means that those with Stargardt disease can only see out of their peripheral vision.

Tanner is the first to admit that growing up wasn’t easy. “I had to put a lot of energy into the things I did,” she says, “I wasn’t able to do reading and math and other school subjects the way that other kids did, so I just had to work harder.”

Even with her eyesight worsening as time went on, Tanner was able to find her niche. She learned how to play the violin purely by ear and also pursued dance. In fact, when Tanner came to BYU as an undergraduate student, her original major was dance!

It wasn’t until later that Tanner found nursing. Years later she became a single mother who needed to provide for 3 kids. In that circumstance, she looked into what a possible nursing career could bring. “I thought there would be so many opportunities in nursing, because I could see nurses doing things that I could imagine myself doing, in spite of my vision impairment,” she says, “What I didn’t expect was that I would be able to develop a specialty helping the blind, and I could use my own life experience to help others.”

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Tanner loves this painting of Christ healing a blind man. She tries to emulate Christ’s love each day.

By taking 24 credits a semester, Tanner was able to complete two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree in 5 years! One was a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Metropolitan State University and the other was a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado, while adding a Masters in Nursing from the same university. She then went on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.

Getting her degrees was not easy, especially with 3 kids at home and vision impairment, but she never let any of it stop her. At school, she used special instruments that allowed her to do the same things her classmates were doing. Meanwhile at home, she dedicated the weekends to her family so she could support her children however she could, and she continues that to this day!

With her university training and expertise, Tanner has worked constantly to help those who suffer from vision loss. Prior to coming to BYU as a professor, she worked as a health educator at the John A. Moran Eye Center and the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. She still teaches a vision loss orientation seminar there and offers those who are new to blindness various tricks, tips, and resources to use their remaining vision optimally.

She also takes her knowledge and skills abroad, to help visually impaired communities outside of the US live fulfilling lives. Among her many volunteer efforts, in the past, she has worked with LDS charities in Barbados, which she plans on continuing soon.

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Tanner has already done so much for the blind community, but she doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. She knows that she can bring a special perspective that can help others overcome trials in their life. She explains, “I have a great career in nursing, not, despite my blindness, like I thought, but because of my blindness.”

Tanner has since re-married and now has a little 5-year old to keep her and her husband company at home. She enjoys going to concerts, traveling with her family and keeping a small garden.

 

 

 

Finding Joy in the Journey: Welcome to New Faculty Member Marc-Aurel Martial

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The Martial family is happy when they are together. 

By Quincey Taylor

Welcome to one the newest college faculty members: assistant professor Dr. Marc-Aurel Martial! Born to some of the first church members in Haiti, married to his college sweetheart, and father of three children whose ages range from 21 to 2, Marc adds a light to the college that fellow faculty and students thoroughly enjoy. Even though he has had some trials in his life, he sees these as an opportunity to learn and rely wholly upon the Lord.

Marc came to the United States when he was around 17 years old. One of his heroes, the mission president of the Port-Au-Prince mission in Haiti from 1991 through 1996, was named Fitzner André Joseph. Joseph always treated Marc with respect, and inspired him to consider serving a mission. He followed Joseph’s advice and served in the Ivory Coast Abidjan mission.

After returning home, Joseph and his wife helped Marc with the application process to come to the United States and attend Rick’s College. Marc’s family came together to sponsor him and he started his journey. He eventually transferred to BYU and applied for the nursing program in 1998.

Marc met his future wife, Paka, when the two were at BYU. He knew marrying her was the right choice after he saw Paka and his mother interact. Even though they didn’t share a common language (Marc’s mother spoke Haitian Creole) they connected and became friends. They were later married in 2001 and continued with their education – Paka in statistics and Marc in nursing.

The road to having children was not an easy one for Marc and Paka, a road that included infertility and eventual adoption. Although the heartache was always present, they filled their pre-parenthood years with good deeds and experiences. They did humanitarian work, continued in their careers, and bought a house.

Throughout the years, different friends and family members would suggest adoption, but the Martials weren’t ready yet. They were holding out hope that they would be able to have children biologically. However, in 2009, they decided to submit their application for adoption. Only a month and a half later, the process quickened when they met with the birth mom of their future son. In September of that year, Dahiren was born and became a part of the Martial family.

Although suddenly becoming parents was slightly overwhelming, the Martials found support in their community, church, and family. Little did they know that their family was only beginning the process of growth.

The next year, they heard about the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit the island of Haiti. A friend of theirs from the church had passed away, and her 12-year-old son, named Levi, was being cared for by the bishop of the ward. His only living immediate relative was his older sister, who was currently attending BYU-Idaho.

Marc and Paka contacted the sister, wanting to know her desire for her brother. She wanted him to come to the United States to be closer to her, so the Martials started to try and find a way to make that happen.

After jumping through legal hoops for ten months, Levi finally came to the US under the Martials’ guardianship. Two years later, Levi asked to be sealed to the family eternally. Fast forward to today, and Marc describes Levi as “the leader of our children; he is a good example, caring and loving.” He is currently attending BYU.

However, the Martial family wasn’t complete yet. In the summer of 2016, Paka found out the wonderful news that she was expecting. Nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl they named Dahlia. Marc laughs, “She’s the center of the universe.” Dahlia, who is now two and a half, brings so much light and excitement to the family.

Marc and Paka were worried that Dahlia might forget about Levi when he left on his two-year mission, but since the change where families can FaceTime with their missionaries every week, their relationship blossomed. They’ve definitely seen the prophet’s promise when he said this change would strengthen family bonds.

Marc loves to play racquetball and soccer, and enjoys more time to do so after finishing his PhD. He keeps an avid journal and recommends the practice to everyone.

 

Achieving Our Personal Best: Assistant Professor Neil Peterson Runs Half Marathon

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Who wakes up at 5am to run a race? This guy! Photo courtesy of Peterson.

By Quincey Taylor

As a college, faculty and staff love to celebrate in their coworkers’ academic accomplishments. From new research to successful student experiences, there is a lot to be excited about. However, the college as a community loves to celebrate in coworkers’ accomplishments outside of work as well.

Run, Forest, Run

On June 1, 2019, assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson was a runner in the Utah Valley Half Marathon, truly living his teachings surrounding health and exercise. This was Peterson’s first half marathon he had completed. He had participated in many different triathlons, and decided to try his hand at a half. He trained for ten weeks coming up to it, hoping to get his own personal best time.

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Crossing the finish line was a great feeling for Peterson. Photo courtesy of Peterson.

His goal was to finish in under two hours. During training, he was able to finish the 13.1 miles in one hour, 55 minutes. His goal was to shave off five minutes and finish the race in one hour, 50 minutes. Accompanied by his brother, Peterson kept up with the 1:50 pacemaker for most of the race, eventually slowly passing her near the end.

At the finish line, Peterson got a personal best time of one hour, 47 minutes. He received the ‘Closer Award,’ meaning he ran the second half of the race faster than the first, something few runners can claim.

Student Volunteers Involved

In the recovery tent, BYU nursing student volunteers waited for any injuries that might happen to the participants. They helped runners with minor health problems, like dehydration and foot injuries.

When asked how he felt about knowing that his own students would help him if he were injured, Peterson laughed, “Oh, yeah, they know what they’re doing…They’ve got the knowledge that they need to be able to do what they need to do.”

The students volunteered to help out, giving of their time freely. Races are a great chance for students to get out there and volunteer, using the skills they have learned in class and clinical. Giving back to the community is an integral part of nursing that students should eagerly look to participate in. Peterson explains, “Nursing is not all about just getting paid. It’s about using your skills to help other people.”

Future Races

This Labor Day, Peterson plans to run another triathlon, as well as most likely participate in a marathon next year. This will be his first marathon he has ever run. Even though preparing for these races requires a significant amount of time, Peterson believes the effort is worth the reward.