Skip to Content

Wilmington native beats cancer, now works at the hospital that saved her life

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Abby Coderre is turning her painful past into a professional passion.

After graduating from Laney High School, she was off to East Carolina University to study nursing. However, after just one year at ECU, everything changed.

“I started having some chest pains. So, my sister told me to go to the ER, and they did a chest X-ray and saw that my esophagus was pushed off to the side a little bit,” Coderre recalled.

A CT scan revealed the unthinkable: cancer.

“The tumor was just stuck to everything. It had made itself very comfortable in there,” she joked.

Coderre was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma and started chemo right away.

But, she didn’t let it turn her life upside down. Coderre decided to stay in school, knowing her chemo was temporary.

“My main concern whenever I got diagnosed was am I going to be able to continue school because that’s a long time to just up in leave school and not have anything to do,” she explained.

Not even a month after starting chemo, Coderre went back to school virtually.

“I got my acceptance into nursing school. I actually got that email while I was getting chemo one day. So that was kind of surreal, like getting that news while I’m in the hospital myself,” she said.

When people thought she was crazy for going back to school she had the big picture in mind.

“It still allowed me to have a purpose other than just surviving.”

After two years of chemo, Coderre is now a nurse at ECU Health, the same hospital that saved her life.

She says it doesn’t come without its challenges.

“At the end of the day, I want to make it better for those kids in the hospital. I know what they need and what they’re feeling.”

She’s living out her dream of caring for others just as she was cared for.

“I feel like even though I don’t tell every single one of my patients my story, I feel like you’re still able to get what you need from me. In just the way that I care for you. I feel like is different than just any other nurse.”

Coderre is on track to become an oncology nurse, meaning she will soon begin working with children undergoing chemotherapy.

Visionary of the Year

Coderre’s remarkable story led to her being chosen as the youngest visionary the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has ever had.

She hopes to raise $84,000 for other blood cancer patients, marking the 840 days she had of chemo.