Nurse Practitioner at Concord Hospital, Internal Medicine, <br />Palliative Care, Cancer Survivorship Program

Birthplace: Millinocket, Maine

Family: Husband, Jay Plodzik; three children, Jacob (8), Lauren (5) and Jenavieve (2)

High school: Schenck High School, East Millinocket, Maine

College/post grad degrees: St. Anselm College, BSN; Boston College, MSN

What is the best career advice you ever received?

I learned early on in my career as a healthcare professional that in an effort to be a sustainable and compassionate caregiver, I need to first care for myself, both physically and emotionally. As a wife, mom of three young children, and a nurse practitioner in a variety of clinic settings, work-life balance is certainly challenging at times. I make it a priority each day to find time to make myself a healthy meal or get in a quick workout. When I am well, I am able to deliver the best care possible.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have a passion for health and wellness and improving quality of life across the lifespan for individuals. As a primary care nurse practitioner, I promote preventative practice guidelines, healthy eating and exercise, and strive to make this personalized for each patient. I enjoy managing symptoms related to diseases and helping patients find meaning in their illness, even when near death. I recently started the Cancer Survivorship Clinic at the Payson Center at Concord Hospital, and our focus on helping survivors live healthy lives after cancer treatment is so rewarding.

What motivates you to give back to your community?

The connectivity we have with each other is paramount in sustaining healthy living. I am a two-time cancer survivor and I want others to receive the same genuine support and kindness I received from my family, friends, and local community. When I was going through my treatment I knew that my experiences could be helpful to others. I remember saying to myself, “If this can help just one person, it will all be worth it.”

I started Fit4acause three years ago, a donation-only fitness program that benefits patients with cancer. The money raised through Fit4acause has nurtured and supported so many patients. I am so grateful to the Fit4acause participants for their commitment to their own personal fitness and to our local patients. Join us on Sundays at 8:30 a.m., May through October, at Memorial Field in Concord! “You ARE strong enough!”

What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

Life has taught me that I can do really hard things. I would remind myself that “You will encounter many obstacles as you move through life and achieve your goals. Do not be discouraged – never give up! With the help of God and others, you can overcome any obstacle.”

What would you like to be doing when you’re 40?

I am hopeful to continue to grow in my faith, spend more time with my family, and run my first 10 miler!

Volunteer activities: Founder of Fit4acause, a donation-only fitness program/bootcamp that raises money for patients with cancer.

Last major achievement: Winner of the Concord Wellness Coalition Well Done 2018 Award; and summer 2018 organized the first annual Fit4acause Triple Challenge, a 5-mile bike, 5K and 5 circuit bootcamp. This event raised close to $10,000 to benefit cancer survivors. Save the date for Sunday Aug. 18 this year!