Marcia Owens, 59

Eighth Ave between 34th and 35th Sts.

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Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

What do you do? Right now, I teach nursing students for the boards. I'm trained in psychiatric nursing. [Laughs] That's gonna sound really great with a purple wig, won't it?

You mean, like, you put the psycho in psychiatric? [Laughs] Right, right, right! But that's not really what it's about, no. What it's really about is that I finished chemo and radiation, and I am celebrating life.

Did cancer change your whole outlook on life? No, it really didn't. My family has a history of cancer. And you know, I was really lucky, and I'm out the other side, so I'm feeling good.

How did you get into psychiatric nursing? When I was a student, I worked on the prep team from midnight till 4am shaving people before they went for surgery. I loved listening to these people talk about their concerns and fears about surgery, and I felt so inept. I felt I didn't know how to listen. So I decided I'd do a psych rotation first. And I just loved it. I never left.

You must have a strong stomach, with all that shaving. It wasn't that bad. But this is so funny: When we'd get the shaving order—this was a million years ago—it would say "nipple to knees." They don't do that anymore. They used to even shave women before they gave birth.

With all that experience, you could work at a New York City spa. [Laughs] This is very true.

More from Marcia

"A FedEx guy told me I was absolutely gorgeous. He said, 'You know, when a woman puts color in her hair, it really puts a heartbeat in a man.'"

"I'm one of seven children: five girls and two boys. Why so many kids? When you have girls, you want a son... And once you have the heir, then you need a spare. [Laughs]"

"I started wearing these wigs in the treatment room before chemo. The doctor would come in and the curtain would be pulled and I'm behind it. I'd have some crazy wig on, and I'd say something to drive him nuts, like, 'I've lost most of my hair, but what's left, I just don't know what to do with it.' And he pulls back the curtain, and I'm wearing a troll-doll wig. [Laughs]"

 

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