Early on, Molly Nestor felt that she had a future in the medical field. Athletics often put her in touch with others who were less fortunate.
“You come across people with serious and or terminal illnesses that robbed them of their future in sports and even their life,” said Nestor, a 27-year-old Duxbury native who was a four-year starter in hockey and softball at Notre Dame Academy of Hingham, graduating in 2007.
“That contributed to this career choice.”
That was the case at NDA, when Christina Crespi, her fellow co-captain on the softball team, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder, a disease that affects cellular metabolism and cellular energy. The ailment ended the career of major league baseball career of Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli.
“Christina was an incredible player but could not continue after her sophomore year,” recalled N
estor of the Weymouth native. “That was something that stuck with me.”
After high school, Crespi and Nestor fell out of touch. In the past year, they reconnected when Crespi was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, which forced her to leave her nursing job in California for treatment at Dana-Farber in Boston.
“We had the most beautiful of coincidences in that my clinical days at Dana Farber this past semester fell on Christina’s recurrent treatment days,” said Nestor, who graduated from Yale School of Nursing last Monday.
“In between clinic, I was able to scoot over to the infusion suite on the GI medical oncology floor to spend a few moments together while she was receiving her chemotherapy. My journey to becoming a nurse practitioner has graced me with infinite gifts, and I regard my Mondays with Christina as the greatest of them all.”
After six months of treatments, Crespi’s cancer responded favorably to chemotherapy. She plans to attend Simmons College this fall to work toward her master’s in nursing.
“Christina completed chemotherapy like the resilient athlete and gamer she’s always been,” said Nestor. “Though we had years apart, our love for the game and nursing has made picking up our friendship a seamless endeavor.”
Nestor, who graduated from Bowdoin College in 2011, worked for a year as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General and held a similar position at Brigham & Women’s before going back to school.
She has accepted a nurse practitioner position at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, an affiliate of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. She will be working with patients with colorectal and pancreatic cancers when she begins her new role in August.
“It’s a huge change, especially for a homebody like me, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Nestor.
At Notre Dame Academy, Nestor was a four-year starter in softball and hockey, and received the Boston Bruins/MIAA Sportsmanship Award in 2006.
As a freshman at Bowdoin, she started 33 games and led the team in RBIs. Her junior season, Nestor batted .263 and helped the Polar Bears make their first appearance in the NCAA Division 3 tournament. As a senior, she helped power Bowdoin to its first series sweep of perennial NESCAC power Tufts. Nestor was 2 for 3 in a 5-4 win, and then scored the winning run in a 2-1 victory.
“Making the NCAA tourney was a huge highlight, and then the following year we took the series from Tufts. Those were great memories.”
Nestor said that her background in athletics is beneficial in a career like nursing.
“You have to be a team player to do well in nursing,” she said. “Nursing is a team sport. You work with others and bring your piece to the table. Just like softball, everyone contributes a unique and invaluable piece of the puzzle to a common goal. The mental toughness required for the ups and downs of a career in nursing was cultivated in my years of team sports.”
John Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.