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Sanford nurse in training comes full-circle after beating cancer as a child

Jacob Roble still remembers going to the hospital for cancer treatments when he was three, five and 10 years old. Now he is giving back — training to be a nurse at Sanford Children’s Hospital.

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Jacob Roble sits inside Sanford Children's Hospital.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY
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FARGO — Jacob Roble can easily relate to the young cancer patients in his care. He truly knows what it is like to get this terrible disease at such a young age.

He said most of his memories at the children's hospital in Fargo are positive, and he owes it to the nurses.

"A big tree, I was hanging Bionicles in the tree," Roble recalled. "Messing with the nurses, we would have squirt gun fights. When I lost all my hair, they would draw on the back of my head, make smiley faces on the back."

After getting a bone marrow transplant in Rochester, he made up his mind. He wants to give back.

"I'm like, 'This is kind of cool; I think I want to be a nurse,'" he explained.

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One of the nurses who helped him get through cancer is now his boss at Sanford Health.

"I just remember — his smile hasn't changed," Holly Ellegard said.

She got to know him as a young adult, when he began his years of training to this point.

"So I've really known Jacob for a long time," she said.

He is applying what he learned from Ellegard and what he experienced at a young age.

"It's not what you say, it's what you do," Roble said. "I remember what they did, and how they, like, had fun and took care of me and made me feel better."

For Ellegard, it is another example of how rewarding this career can be.

"Being invited to high school graduations, or weddings, or notifications that they're now having families of their own," Ellegard said. "It's pretty powerful to know that you helped somebody through a tough journey like cancer."

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Through small things like playing some Mario or spending time with the kids, Roble is hoping to create positive memories. He is on track to become a nurse sometime in June.

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