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Q & A With Pink and Teal Hero Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN

Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN is Lead Surgical Advanced Practice Nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN is Lead Surgical Advanced Practice Nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

Pink and Teal Hero Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN is Lead Surgical Advanced Practice Nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.  A breast cancer survivor herself, Helen has worked at Cooper since 1990. Find out why people call this thrill seeker Lucky, and why she decided to pursue a career in nursing, especially after a short stint as a pageant contestant.

 You are a breast cancer survivor. How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I had just turned 39. My daughter, Laura, was 2 at the time, and I found a lump right before her 3rd birthday.

Does being a breast cancer survivor influence your approach to care?

Having had a personal experience with breast cancer, I understand what it means to sit in that chair and hear that diagnosis. I understand my patients’ fear, their challenges. I try to listen to them and support them, and I can see the fear and anxiety come down some.

How did you end up with your nickname, Lucky?

I was born at Cooper on July 11, and 7-11 is considered a lucky number. The nickname Lucky just stuck.

Right to Left: Generosa Grana, MD, Head, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Director, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN is Lead Surgical Advanced Practice Nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Kristin L. Brill, MD, Program Director, The Janet Knowles Breast Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Director, Section of Breast Surgery

Right to Left: Generosa Grana, MD, Head, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Director, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, Helen Nichter, RN, MSN, APN is Lead Surgical Advanced Practice Nurse at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Kristin L. Brill, MD, Program Director, The Janet Knowles Breast Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and Director, Section of Breast Surgery

Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing?

I lost my father to cancer when I was 7. I fell in love with the nurse who was taking care of him with my mother. I wanted to help others like these two strong women in my life did for my Dad.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

I have a passion for baking and cooking, and am known for my apple cakes. You could also say I may be a bit of a thrill seeker. I went bungee jumping in my late 20s and still want to learn how to drive a racecar in the Poconos.

You were a finalist in the Miss Cooper Hospital pageant. Really?

It was 1979, and I was a teenager. My mother was a beautician in Cherry Hill and a number of her clients were on the Women’s Auxiliary Board. They nominated me.

Learn more about the Pink Roses Teal Magnolias Fund and preregister for the Pink Roses Teal Magnolias Brunch, where we will honor Helen and three other Pink and Teal Heroes, on Oct. 30 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.