I remember going into my freshman year of college as a Nursing major. I also remember immediately switching into fashion classes within the first week. I’ve said it ever since that day: I give major props to anyone who goes into the medical field. However, what if you met a nurse who taps into their creative side and brings out their inner fashionista with a job responsibility such as treating patients with cancer? You’re just about to. Meet Elaine!
My name is Elaine and I am a Michigan State Spartan living in Ann Arbor (Go Green!) with my husband and our little family of fur-children (Luna, our black lab and bull mastiff mix, and Suki our resident cat princess). I love to travel, but at home I love to bake and cook! I guess I learned to cook because I sure love to eat! As for my job, I work as a hematology and oncology infusion nurse; in other words, I administer chemotherapy and manage the treatment of patients diagnosed with cancer.
fashion meets God: How and when did you become interested in fashion?
Elaine Brown: There is a famous picture among my family of myself as a toddler trying to walk in my mother’s heels, so I suppose I was born with it! Even as a little girl I remember always looking up to my mom because she always looks fabulous and so put together! Seeing how she can quietly command attention (even though she doesn’t know it!) because of how classy she is really intrigued me as I got older.
fmG: How would you describe your personal style? Where or who do you get inspiration from?
EB: As I got older I started to develop my specific tastes. As much as my mother’s classic style ignited my love for fashion, for some reason I was always drawn to flowy silhouettes – I’ve honestly been trying to look like a hippie since I was 13! I love boho style: I just find it so feminine and fun! You get to layer and play with colors and textures so it’s never boring! It exudes a free-spirit confidence. I get my inspiration from YouTube and Instagram fashion bloggers like Alex and Kyla Centomo. Pinterest also gives me lots of ideas!
EB: Honestly I try really hard to bring my style into my “scrub-life” so I never lose that creativity on off days. Since my hair always has to be up I learned how to do a variety of braided hairstyles (which has the added benefit of being heatless!) and invested in colorful headbands to give a little punch to my otherwise basic scrubs. I enjoy the opportunity to go all out with my personal style when I’m not at work!
fmG: What would you change about your uniform if you had the opportunity?
EB: Considering the physicality of nursing, the long hours and the amount of um…body fluid that can get on you, scrubs are actually perfect! It’s like going to work in your pajamas every day! Scrub companies are coming out with more unique silhouettes and patterns too and I’m lucky to work at a place that does not designate scrub colors for nurses.
fmG: Let’s talk about your job. How has working with cancer patients affected your relationship with God and your perspective on life?
EB: I have actually discussed this with my husband that cancer is so universally impactful because it completely takes us out of control of ourselves. It forces us to come face-to-face with bewildering uncertainty, ultimately shoving us into the staggering realization that you are not your own lord. I recently walked with a good friend whose fiancée (now husband) was diagnosed with cancer months before their wedding. Her fiancée had no risk factors and not a shred of cancer in his family; he was even training to run a marathon! I remember the devastation and spiritual battle that I fought with God as I begged the question “why?”
What I got from that experience and my current experience with cancer patients is full surrender to God’s sovereignty. It forced the issue of complete trust in Him; I mean complete, utter, total, unhindered trust. I certainly trusted Him, but not with everything. Through the heartbreaking diagnosis of cancer, God places before me the question: “Do you believe I am everything I say I am, my child? Do you believe truly and wholly with every ounce of your heart and soul?” I can either choose to despise God and live in misery or choose to trust Him and live by faith. It is terrifying to lose lordship over myself, but my heart has never been fuller. He truly wants to give us peace and freedom, and how amazing is He to transform my heart even in the midst of terminal illness?
fmG: How do you encourage those who are battling cancer?
EB: By being present. I am blessed to be in the position where it is my job to be present for those with cancer and God makes time for important conversations to happen. Just being a listening ear and a person that will take all of someone’s grievances, heartbreaks, joys, elation and everything in between and show love to them regardless is exactly what my mission is; after all, is that not how God pursued me?
If you or someone you love is battling cancer, my heart feels deeply for your struggle. The emotional roller coaster, the uncertainty, the pain of suffering at all degrees may seem too much to bear. If I could hug you and tell you not to give in to despair and instill in you the hope that comes from a God who defeated death itself I would do that right now. Though the circumstances seem bleak, the moments purposeless and the light too dim to recognize from darkness, allow me to claim His victory over it.
“Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things. Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again.”
– Psalm 71: 19-20
Thank you, Elaine, for the talent and work God has you given you here on earth as well as all that you’re doing for His Kingdom. May every patient and their families that crosses your path be blessed with the love you shine of Christ!