Mother and daughter nurses share special bond caring for patients

A veteran oncology nurse’s newest colleague at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is also a familiar one: Her daughter, Christen.
The dynamic duo shares more than genetics and history. Together, they share experiences, frustrations, joys, and the precious moments only nurses can appreciate. They understand each other.

Christen Heye and Diane Heye
Christen Heye, left, and Diane Heye. Mother and daughter nurses share special bond for caring for patients.

A veteran oncology nurse’s newest colleague at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is also a familiar one: Her daughter, Christen.

The dynamic duo shares more than genetics and history. Together, they share experiences, frustrations, joys, and the precious moments only nurses can appreciate. They understand each other.

“I know and appreciate what she does because I see it, have known it, and I live it,” said Diane Heye, BSN, RN, who is the longest-serving outpatient nurse in SCCA’s Transplant Clinic.

In each woman is a compassionate, caring, patient, intelligent, motivated, and humanistic individual with the skills and experience to change lives. Each strives to fill a patient’s world with compassion and care in ways that others may never equate.

Both have experienced the difficulties that come with a cancer diagnosis.

As an undergraduate nursing student getting ready to begin her final semester at Boston College, Christen was diagnosed with primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that typically affects young women.

“On January 4, 2013, my life changed forever,” Christen said.

Christen Heye
Christen Heye, ARNP at SCCA and LLS Woman of the Year Nominee. (Photo by Erin Berge)

Christen received treatment, including an effective chemotherapy regimen, at SCCA. As a patient, she witnessed firsthand the critical role that providers and nursing staff played in the success of her treatment.

“I’ve always had a desire to work with patients and families facing cancer diagnoses and treatment,” Christen said. “But after my own experience, I knew I had the opportunity to pay forward the excellent care that I received.”

Christen Heye, ARNP, went onto raise awareness, support, and fundraise on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her efforts garnered a big win this year, when she was named “Woman of the Year” by the WA-AK Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  

She credits the leading-edge research and expertise at SCCA for saving her life. She credits her mother for everything else.

“My mom gave me hope when I lost it, gave me strength when I couldn’t pick myself up, and loved me unconditionally. And guess what, she still does,” she said.

Christen’s childhood dream of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a nurse started when she was just four years old. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse,” Christen said. “At first, I wanted to be just like my mom. That sentiment evolved into a desire to be a part of arguably the most caring and selfless profession there is. It wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of nursing care at SCCA that I truly understood the impact that nursing can make.”

Diane says she never pushed her child into the medical field but is delighted with her career path.

Christen said she is proud of her mother’s devotion and excellence in patient care.

Both nurses agree they can't imagine doing anything else — or being anywhere else.

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