Where Are They Now - Andrea Saldana, Cannabis Dispensary Administration
When Andrea Saldana was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 40, she knew she was about to face the fight of her life. But what she did next is truly remarkable.
“I was diagnosed in April of 2022,” says Andrea. “I have worked in healthcare all my life, and I knew something was wrong with my body. The diagnosis didn’t surprise me, but how much treatment I would need did. I just kept wondering how I was going to get through.”
Facing chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation, Andrea knew she would have to take time off work.
“I was more worried about the mental toll it would have on me. I didn’t want to be idle. I knew I had to find something to keep my mind occupied on this journey. Enrolling in an online program, while daunting, seemed like the right thing to do.”
Andrea, curious about the exploding cannabis industry and its medicinal use, enrolled in Rockford Career College’s Cannabis Dispensary Administration program.
“I have always been interested in learning more about cannabis,” says Andrea. “Despite wondering if I would have the energy for schoolwork, I felt this program would keep my mind busy during my treatment and I’d learn about a topic I was eager to know more about. I enrolled in June of 2022, and set up a schedule for myself to balance online coursework while going through my breast cancer treatments.”
Through a mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation, Andrea found a way to simultaneously fight her cancer battle and complete her coursework.
“I was tired. It was hard. I would make sure to submit my assignments by Wednesdays so I could focus on resting from treatments the rest of the week. There were many times I didn’t think I could do it. But I did. I never gave up.”
In January of 2023, Andrea graduated from the program with a diploma in Cannabis Dispensary Administration. For her, it was the win of a lifetime.
“I feel I accomplished so much more than just a diploma. I fought cancer too. I came out of something so scary with so much to be proud of.”
Andrea says the program was just what she was looking for. Not only did she learn about the history of cannabis in the United States and the laws and regulations surrounding it’s use, but she learned about the journey this once completely illegal commodity has taken to becoming a growingly accepted form of medical treatment.
“Sure, there are pros and cons to legalizing cannabis,” says Andrea, “but educating myself on the industry has opened my eyes to the debate on both sides.”
Where is she now?
Andrea is still recovering from treatments and not back to work yet, but already has a plan for the future.
“I was so happy with the education I received at Rockford. I don’t necessarily want to work in the cannabis industry, but I do want to continue my career in healthcare. Once I am healed, I plan to enroll in Rockford’s Practical Nursing program so I can further my career. Enrolling in school was the best compliment to treatment I could have asked for.”
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