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From Cancer Patient to Oncology Nurse: Roby Quintela, BSN, RN

June 29, 2022

For Roby Quintela, BSN, RN, a nurse at Texas Oncology–El Paso Cancer Treatment Center Joe Battle, working in healthcare, let alone oncology, was never a part of his plan. However, an unexpected cancer diagnosis changed everything. Roby shares his story of going from a 24-year-old personal trainer to a cancer patient and, ultimately, an oncology nurse.

After Roby Quintela graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2011, he decided to join his family business and become a personal trainer at Black Flag Strength and Conditioning, a local gym owned by his two brothers.

However, Roby, a natural athlete, started feeling fatigued while at work. He also experienced night sweats, severe colds, and unexplained weight loss. Despite his young age and healthy lifestyle, something was not right.

After several months of symptoms, he decided to make an appointment with his doctor. On March 30, 2015, Roby was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system located in the body’s immune system.

With the encouragement of friends and family nearby, Roby began treatment at Texas Oncology–El Paso Cancer Treatment Center Joe Battle. His brothers even created a charity event called Row for Roby, taking turns on rowing machines for 24 hours straight to raise money for his cancer care. When they were not by his side, Roby’s brothers continued to run the charity, eventually raising over $25,000 for his treatment. While undergoing treatment, Roby took notice of the way his care team interacted with him and other patients.

“I love helping people but never considered working in healthcare because I did not think I was ‘smart enough,’” said Roby. “However, I could not shake the feeling of wanting to become an oncology nurse myself.”

After receiving the news that he was in remission, Roby decided to go back to school and graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in nursing in 2018. He worked as an intensive care unit nurse for nearly six months before returning to the same Texas Oncology location where he was a patient—this time as an infusion nurse.

“What I love about being an oncology nurse is the ability to really get to know my patients. I have built so many incredible relationships, and it can be hard, even as a professional, when their outcome is not what we wanted,” said Roby.

According to the American Cancer Society, 43,490 Texans will die from cancer in 2022. However, whenever a new patient comes through the doors of Texas Oncology, Roby is there to walk alongside them every step of the way.

“When we get a new patient, I recognize the fear and anxiety on their face because I have been in their shoes. I am honored that I can share my story with them and do my part to help them feel comfortable and safe during one of the scariest times of their life,” said Roby.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.