Kathleen Gray, RN is the Oncology Case Manager at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. Kathleen is there for the patients through each step of cancer and is a big comfort to all.

by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer

The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic was established in 1974 and is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide variety of behavioral health and pharmacy related services primarily for Native Americans.
Kathleen Gray, RN has been a nurse for over twenty-two years. She is the Oncology Case Manager at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. She was also the first American Indian Nurse Navigator in Oklahoma. She is the only nurse that works in Oncology at the OKC Indian Clinic. “I go through the whole cancer process with the patient; From the minute they come in to have tests done, to hearing the news, good or bad, to being with them through to the end. If they need medications or going through radiation treatments to chemo, I am here for them and I know that I am a big comfort to them in so many ways,” she commented.
Born in Oklahoma, Kathleen went to school at Rose State College. Her first job as a nurse was at OU Trauma Center. “I couldn’t believe that was my first job as a new nurse. There were so many critical things going on. We would listen to the news about a shooting, etc. and the next thing we knew, we were working on that patient. I liked the unexpected, never knowing who or what we would see. I am so glad that I was at OU Trauma Center because it was definitely a learning hospital. I didn’t realize at the time, that job prepared me for my job in Oncology. I look back now and think to myself, how did I manage all of the chaos and that trauma?” Kathleen laughed.
Kathleen told me why she likes working at the Indian Clinic. “My mother is full blood Muskogee Creek Indian and my dad was Caucasian. Since I am half Creek Indian, I can relate to the patients and they can relate to me. They trust me.”
“When I was a little girl, if my dad got a splinter, I would help him take care of it. My dad always said, Kathleen, you are my little nurse.” Asking Kathleen what she wanted to be when she was little, she said, a nurse. “I loved playing with dolls and taking care of them. Believe it or not, I actually tore apart the dolls, doing my version of surgery, only to put them back together with tape, glue and Band-Aids. My younger brother had a Stretch Armstrong and as he stretched it out as far as it would go, I grabbed my scissors and cut it right in two. I just had to find out what was on the inside and how did Stretch Armstrong stretch that way? I’m sorry to say, good ole Stretch Armstrong did not survive. It’s really funny how l was so into dolls. Literally.”
Asking Kathleen to describe herself she said, “I like to take care of people. I love adventure and I am not afraid to try new things,” she replied.
What qualities make a good nurse? “A nurse has to be compassionate and be able to multi-task. They need to be sensitive to their patients’ feelings and expect the unexpected,” Kathleen said.
“The biggest challenge for me is explaining to the patient that they have some kind of cancer and telling them how to take care of themselves; a lot of them don’t fully understand how to follow the steps to getting better or not showing up for their appointment. Sometimes, it can be such a struggle,” she said.
Kathleen is married to her wonderful husband, John and they have two sons; Tyler – thirty and his wife Kelly, and son Elliott who is twenty-four. They also have two grandchildren, Kyson – ten and Ava -three. Their four-legged family friends consist of a Chinese Pug named Luther, a Rottweiler, Roxy, a terrier named Bella and a cat that goes by the name Wahoo.
When not working at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic or spending time with her family, Kathleen likes to garden. “I love to plant flowers, watching them blossom from nothing into something beautiful. With me working in oncology, I see a lot of death. I feel like if I plant something it is my way of showing new life beginning,” she said with a smile.
Kathleen’s favorite Bible verse is: Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 NIV

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