From Patient to Registered Nurse: Overcoming Challenges to Achieve Her Dream

Misty Blue Foster at garduation

Getting her degree as a registered nurse is a dream come true for Misty Blue Foster. And she did so with all the odds stacked against her.

Foster was born three months premature with cloacal exstrophy, a rare birth defect of the abdominal wall in which the organs are outside of the body, and spina bifida. Her mother was addicted to heroin and passed away when Foster was 5. While she lived in foster care, Foster’s chronic conditions led to frequent hospitalizations at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

“They [physicians and staff] were some of the first adults in the world who respected my voice and made me feel safe, welcome, and deserving of a good chance in life,” Foster recalled in a perspective piece, “Growing Up in a Hospital.”

One of those people was Petie Agnew, a now-retired Packard Children’s nursing assistant.

“Misty was a challenging little girl [in the sense that] she just needed a lot of loving,” Agnew said. “She didn’t come from a very loving environment, and we had to show her what love could be.”

Petie took care of Misty when she was born and continued to care for her as she had her many surgeries.

“I started to think of her as my hospital mom,” Foster said. “I didn’t have a good home life, and I didn’t have a mom to go home to, but when I was at Packard, I always had a ‘mom’ to take care of me. Now that I’m grown up, she’s my mom by choice. She even gave me away at my wedding. I ended up with a family from Packard.”

Now, more than three decades later, Foster continues to see the same pediatric urologist, William Kennedy, MD, who treated her as a child.

“Fortunately, I’m trained both as an adult and pediatric urologist, so it’s been a joy and a delight to follow and care for Misty from the age of 7 to now,” said Dr. Kennedy, chief of Pediatric Urology at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. “Few physicians have that privilege to see children mature into adults that want to give back to the health care profession. It’s a special privilege to see Misty achieve this.”

Foster put herself through school, first becoming a certified nursing assistant, then a licensed vocational nurse. While waiting to get her RN, she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health. Today, she’s working as a school nurse in Menlo Park and a public health advisory nurse for the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community. Her hope is to let others know that there are people who care and want to help.

“Without Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, I couldn’t have achieved any of my dreams,” said Foster.  “When I was younger and in foster care, I was constantly told, ‘You won’t be anything when you grow up; you’re going to be just like your mother; you’re disabled, so you should plan on being in a care home,’ and things like that. It was very discouraging, but my caregivers at Packard Children’s never told me that. They said, ‘You could do whatever you want. You could be whoever you want.’”

This year, all her hard work came to fruition. Foster graduated from Ohlone College, and Agnew made sure to be there.

“I know it was a full-circle moment for Petie—not knowing whether I would make it in the incubator, in the surgeries, and then to see me walking across the podium to get my diploma as a registered nurse,” Foster said with a smile. “I could see her beaming from the stands. It made me feel really good to make her proud.”

Watch Misty Blue Foster describe her experience at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and what it meant to graduate with her RN degree.


6 Responses to “From Patient to Registered Nurse: Overcoming Challenges to Achieve Her Dream”

  1. Vincent Pena

    I am touched by your perseverance and passion for the profession of nursing. You are a real hero, well done.

  2. Natalie San Juan

    Misty, omg! Tears are flowing as I watch this inspirational story about your life from defeat from toxic people in your life, to triumph and courage as I have walked partially by your side in your journey as I am privileged to be. I am incredibly inspired by your perseverance to not give up when things get hard, instead use that pain and turn it into power! Thank you for your friendship and inspiration to many others who will be able to achieve their dreams seeing that you can. Nothing is impossible in this life and you are major proof of it!

  3. Antonia

    Congratulations Misty!
    And thank you very much for sharing your story! You are an inspiration to all and I wish you continued success now and in your future endeavors.

  4. Nancy Carpio

    Misty, this is such an inspirational story to all. I congratulate you on your academic achievements and beating all the odds against you at such a young age. I know you will be a great nurse and role model to any child that crosses your path. I also, want to thank you for sharing your story with us all. Welcome to the great profession of nursing.

  5. Christine Sheedy and Kaitlin Morris

    Misty congratulations .
    You are and will always be an inspiration.

    Love from one of your Australian families.





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