FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Imagine being a mom in nursing school and then learning you have breast cancer. 40-year-old Crystal Herdrich was diagnosed during her second to last semester of nursing school. Through her journey, she now can help patients fight the same battles she did.

Herdrich attended the Jersey College School of Nursing on the campus of Lutheran Hospital. This nursing program prepares students for entry-level registered nursing positions.

“These students are typically non-traditional students so they have a lot of things going on outside of school so we are here to support them not only in their academics but help them adapt to life that is going to happen while they are in school,” said Dean of Nursing, Melissa Chase.

Life can throw many challenges in people’s way, spring of 2023 Herdrich was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer stage 3 at that time and that was in my second to last semester right before exams of nursing school,” said Herdrich.

Hearing that news was devastating but Herdrich knew she had to fight for multiple reasons. At the start of her new journey – Herdrich is a voice for the patients she will take under her wing.

“Being that patient and having someone be your advocate is huge,” Herdrich said. “I really want to carry that in my nursing career and carry that forward for them.”

In August, Herdrich finished her nursing degree and completed her cancer treatment. She also has accepted a position in the Emergency Room at Lutheran Hospital.