Carter to end public health career, begin cancer treatment

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – After working in public health for more than 30 years, Tippecanoe County Nurse Donella Carter is hanging up her stethoscope for good this summer.

While she planned on retiring this year, she didn’t plan on starting a new journey on the other side of the hospital bed.

It was nearly 30 years ago when Carter got started in public health in White County.

“I started as a school nurse in public health,” Carter explained. “That was back in 1983 and I was the Frontier School Corporation nurse for about a year and a half.”

From there, Carter made her next career move down to Lafayette where she spent several years as the Lafayette City Health Department nurse, until the state made some changes.

“In 1994, the Indiana Legislature decided we didn’t need three public health departments in Tippecanoe County,” Carter said. “So, that’s when we consolidated to the Tippecanoe County Health Department.”

From then on, Carter has been serving the residents of Tippecanoe County. She said like any job, she has had her ups and downs.

However, Carter likes to reflect on all the good during this journey.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people,” Carter said. “Like all the doctors and nurses who have helped me in my life by making me a better person.”

Carter gives credit to her staff and bosses who have hired her along the way.

She said perhaps the biggest change she has seen throughout the years is the amount of vaccines for children.

“The only shots children got was a polio and measles or mumps shot. That was it,” Carter said. “That’s all you had to have from a baby on, but it’s jumped up to about 18 shots that kids get now.”

Carter was planning to wrap up this chapter of life and retire this summer.

However, she wasn’t expecting to start a new journey with cancer.

Carter was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of bone cancer, in January while on vacation in Florida.

“It was a total shock,” Carter explained. “I didn’t have any symptoms of anything except for one day I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed.”

However, Carter said her family and faith is what keeps her going.

“I know this is in God’s hands and God will take care of me. This is just a little bump in the road,” Carter expressed. “Like I said, I wanted to retire I just didn’t want to retire like this. But there is a reason why God has done this, I don’t know why — but I know there is a reason. I can’t push it enough to just believe. Just believe because He’s bigger and He’s there for us every step of the way.”

Carter has already started chemo therapy.

She will officially retire at the end of July but will be gone most of next month as she undergoes a bone marrow transplant.

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