Are Nurses More Likely To Die From Cancer? This Woman Says “Yes”

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By Yolanda Spivey

Nurses often have the reputation as the ultimate care giver—a dependable person who is there in the time of sick people’s needs.  But unfortunately there is an unspoken sad reality, and that is nurses are dying way too soon.

Leslie Silket has been a registered nurse for over 20 years. Some years ago, she noticed a trend in nurses falling ill in the very hospitals that they served.  She also noticed that no one seemed to care.

“There were nurses who had different types of cancers.  One hospital had ten nurses on the same unit diagnosed with breast cancer,” she told Your Black World.  “At the same hospital, four nurses that worked on the same unit were diagnosed with the same brain tumor.”

Leslie believed that the cancer diagnoses may have been attributed to the carcinogenic agents that the nurses were exposed to on a daily basis.  Working long hours, having poor nutrition and getting little rest were also contributing factors as to why the nurses were falling ill.

What’s even more disparaging about this situation is the fact that many of those nurses didn’t have health insurance.  Leslie stated, “Recently a major hospital in my area reduced the work schedules of nurses and took away their medical coverage.”

In addition to stress, nurses are often times working in old hospitals that are in much needed repairs, putting their health at risk.

From car accidents, domestic violence and on the job violence, nurses are dying in record numbers. Leslie even recalls the time when she almost died after her youngest son was born.  She had an adverse allergic reaction to latex from being exposed to the plastic for many years when she worked as a nurse.

So Leslie did the unthinkable.  She left her six figure salaried job to open a non-for-profit organization called Nurse’s Children Foundation Inc.  Her organization helps to raise funds to financially benefit the sons and daughters who have suffered the loss of their parent/s in the nursing profession.

Leslie stated, “Being African American, and starting a nonprofit that was long over-due for our profession.”

And it didn’t come easy.  Leslie was faced with a great amount of scrutiny, prejudice and negativity but she said she was reminded by Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Nurse’s Children Foundation has been instrumental in providing the families of these fallen nurses the resources to go to college. Their mission is to continue to contribute to the educational hopes and dreams of those children, and to remember and honor the lives of the registered nurses who have died.

For more information, please visit their website

Yolanda Spivey is the Social Justice Manager for Your Black World.  She blogs often on various issues and can be reached at  You can also visit her Facebook page


  1. Evelyn Dela Cruz

    January 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Nice article..

  2. Lisa Meyer-Jones

    February 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Kudos to you Leslie for seeing a need and creating a solution and to Yolanda for getting the word out! It’s ironic that nurses work in health care and often times don’t have health care insurance. In addition to falling ill with cancer, they are often injured on the job due to lack of lift teams and poor staffing and are replaced. Nurses Matter!

  3. Angela Anderson

    February 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Leslie, you make us ‘sisters and nurses’ proud! Keep leading and we will follow!

  4. Gloria Bailey-Ray

    February 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Leslie, as the saying goes “to whom much is given, much is required.” You have been blessed abundantly and the work you have started will morph into such greatness that one cannot conceive the magnitude of the families this organization can/will affect. Kudos to you! Blessings upon the continued success of the organization.