Brandy Zwicker is a one-woman army. Having acquired her degree in 2006, she has been working as a Registered Nurse in North Dakota in the grueling world of medical oncology, cardiac telemetry and critical care step down, and has risen through the ranks to become a Director of Nursing and Quality Assurance Manager.
Add to this, Brandy Zwicker relentlessly hop-scotches between the busy lives of her five children and still makes sure to get her daily dose of exercise. How does she do it? Brandy tells all below!
“Mothers out there know that keeping those plates spinning all at once is a mighty task,” the mile-a-minute mom continues, “but as women, we have to equip our bodies with the right armor to defend against obesity, stress, heart conditions, pulmonary disorders and high blood sugar levels. The catalyst? A sedentary lifestyle. You owe it to your kids to live your healthiest life.”
To her, exercise is what you make it. Brandy Zwicker likes to get really creative to combat the boredom most already-exhausted moms feel when faced with the dreaded “W” word; Workouts.
Her advice? Spice things up! Brandy loves to run, attend spin cycle classes, do yoga and weight training, shoot some hoops and, yes, even take on indoor rock climbing. She has set her sights on professional fitness competitions in the future.
“After a day of arranging playdates and taking your kids to soccer practice, I get it, working up the strength to go work out frankly seems a ridiculous prospect,” Brandy Zwicker acknowledges. “The important thing is, no matter how bone-weary you feel, create a vision to motivate yourself.”
Why is exercise important to you? What do you hope to get out of it? Maybe you’re doing it to keep up with your kids. Or maybe you want to shed those baby pounds. Once you have the vision, you’ll be reminded of how even a little workout can get you closer to your goals. It’s that little spark that gets you on your feet.
Even though exercising seems like more of an off-the-cuff chore, it’s best for busy mothers to book appointments for certain activities, whether that’s a yoga or spin cycle class. A commitment on paper very quickly translates to a commitment in real life.
According to Brandy Zwicker, even if mothers can squeeze in a 30-minute workout into their busy day, they’re doing amazing things for their fitness levels. “When in doubt, talk to a physician about a sustainable fitness regime,” she recommends.
Also, make the most of every seemingly mundane task. On a coffee run? Jog all the way there! Watching your kids at the playground? Do some light cardio! Realize that exercise opportunities are all over, you just have to know where to look.
Brandy Zwicker continues to advocate for a healthier and more active lifestyle for working mothers. She plans to develop innovative techniques to afford greater access to quality healthcare resources. On the sidelines, Brandy is working towards her ambition to become a Family Nurse Practitioner someday.
Brandy Zwicker, RN has served in the hospital and medical system setting for over a decade, within numerous departments and specialties including medical, surgical, oncology, cardiac telemetry, critical care step-down, primary care, Director of Nursing, and Quality Assurance Manager to name a few. Because men and women’s symptoms are different, Brandy wants women to understand their warning signs of an impending heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.
“Heart disease is the narrowing of the arteries over time, due to a build-up of plaque that can in some cases cause a complete blockage of the blood vessels or coronary arteries, and it’s the number one killer of women, taking 1 out of 3 women’s lives each year.” Brandy Zwicker explained, “With so much focus on other diseases that affect women, like breast cancer and autoimmune disorders, heart disease is often overlooked and underestimated. One woman dies every minute of cardiovascular disease.”
Heart Symptoms in Women
• Excessive sweating
• Sleep disturbances
• Shortness of breath, fatigue
• Pain in the jaw
• Shoulder pain
• Upper back pain
• Neck pain
• Abdominal pain
Brandy Zwicker continued, “Many factors play a role in how heart disease affects women; a leading culprit is hormonal changes. When hormones are out of balance, additional factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight gain arise, and all of these symptoms contribute to heart disease.”
Linking hormonal changes to the increase in women developing heart disease is also marked by risk factors such as having had hypertension or diabetes in pregnancy. Along with menopause and the related hormonal fluctuations, eating an unhealthy diet, having uncontrolled hypertension or high cholesterol, having diabetes, being overweight, mental anxiety or unresolved stress, and smoking or previously smoking all play a considerable role in heart disease. For men, many cardiac issues are brought on by stress and unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits.1
Brandy Zwicker is an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle. She is involved in community outreach, yoga for stress management, various exercise, and sports to keep her physically fit as well as a healthy eating plan that works for her and her family.
“Not everyone’s body will act and react the same. I’m a firm believer in personalized care and tailored-made plans for individuals,” said Brandy Zwicker. “It’s important to make the right lifestyle choices for the best health outcomes and always include your healthcare provider in the decision-making process. Living your healthiest life now will enable you the optimal longevity in your future. You and your family are definitely worth it.”
If you experience any heart condition symptoms, call 911. Regular check-ups with your practitioner are critical to staying healthy and for early diagnosis.
1. Barrett-Connor E, PubMed, “Hormones and heart disease in women: the timing hypothesis.”Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA., Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Sep 1;166(5):506-10.
Brandy Zwicker has a passion for serving others in the community as well as through her tenured career as a Registered Nurse. She has worked in the areas of medical, oncology, cardiac telemetry, critical care step-down, primary care, Director of Nursing, and Quality Assurance Manager. Brandy advocates living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.
Brandy Zwicker explained, “The health of the bodies and vascular system are affected by many things like stress, substance abuse, and genetics, but the main offenders of conditions and disorders are obesity, poor dietary habits, having high blood sugar levels, chemical, and toxin overload, and living a sedentary lifestyle.
“Individuals should talk with their physician about the right exercise plan for them. Most people can benefit from taking a brisk 30-minute walk or a 30-minute swim. Exercise increases circulation, improves nutrient and oxygen-rich blood flow and helps you build strength and to lose weight. If you can work out harder, it’s extremely beneficial to get your heart rate up daily with cardiovascular exercise.”
“There have been significant studies on the benefits of water activities for individuals that suffer from cardiac diseases and disorders. These cases have proven that the level of oxygen in the blood increases in water, which is ideal for most vascular issues.” Brandy Zwicker continued, “The oxygen consumption (VO2) is three times greater in water than on land. Working large muscle groups leads to this uptake of oxygen or VO2 but doing a lot of running and legwork on land increases the heart rate at a higher level than with water-based therapy. For obvious reasons, maintaining a lower heart rate is ideal for those suffering from any heart ailments.
“If you are sick, suffering from stress or chronic conditions, stress reduction through yoga or meditation, along with the right exercise, diet, supplements, medications and lifestyle changes, an increase in overall health is achievable.”
Brandy Zwicker has five children and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, and outdoor fitness opportunities. She enjoys working out to include running, spin cycle, yoga, weight training, basketball, and indoor rock climbing. Brandy hopes to compete in fitness competitions eventually.
Brandy Zwicker looks forward to many more years within the healthcare industry, and she’s arranging her schedule to attend a university to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Degree with plans to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Registered Nurse (BSN), Brandy Zwicker has worked in the areas of medical, oncology, cardiac telemetry, critical care step-down, basic care, Director of Nursing, and Quality Assurance Manager. Brandy Zwicker is an ambassador for lung cancer awareness. Brandy told us, “Lung cancer statistics remain high. However, even though over 230,000 new lung cancer diagnoses are made annually in the US, nearly 531,000 people today, have at some point in their lives been diagnosed with lung cancer, and yet they are alive and well with zero remission. This is predominantly because it was caught early through lung cancer screenings.”
Three main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and lung carcinoid lung cancer.
Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type, affecting nearly 85% of those with
lung cancer. Fortunately, this form of carcinoma usually grows at a slower
rate. There are three subsets that makeup NSCLC, Squamous, adenocarcinoma, and
Small Cell or Oat:
Cell cancer affects nearly 10% of the lung cancer population and spreads very
affects about 5% of those with lung cancer. It grows very slowly and rarely
Smokers & Non-Smokers
Smokers are, of course, at higher risk of developing lung cancer. Nonetheless, the stereotype that often coincides with a lung cancer diagnosis is that patients are assumed to have smoked. But the stark reality is that in many cases, lung cancer diagnosis happens to patients that have never smoked a day in their life.
Non-smokers that have lung cancer are usually identified as those that have been exposed to environmental carcinogens like, cleaning products, diesel exhaust, radon gas, asbestos or those with genetic mutations. Research suggests that screening a high-risk population for lung cancer can drastically reduce the number of mortalities
from this disease.
CT Scan Screening
Brandy Zwicker explained, “CT scans of the chest are advantageous in identifying and screening for lung cancer. If detected in the early stages, the treatment options and
outcomes are much more successful. Because CT scans can detect tiny masses in
the lungs, by detecting cancerous tumors at an early stage, an individual’s
survival rate may be significantly improved.”
Lung cancer screenings are crucial for smokers and former smokers, especially those 55-75 years of age. This is due to the prevalence of lung cancer seen in this population. The screenings are also vital for individuals exposed to carcinogens, or those that show signs and symptoms of
Given the advantages of having lung screenings with CT scans, due to the higher resolution and ability to detect very tiny cancer cells, there is a proven reduction in lung
cancer-related deaths compared to those patients tested with X-ray.
Treatment & Recovery
Depending on the stage and type
of lung cancer, there are several treatment options. These include surgery,
chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy. Early
detection is imperative for survival rates, health impacts, and recovery.
Brandy Zwicker is a Bachelor of Science (BSN) Registered Nurse with ten years of nursing experience. Brandy Zwicker has a passion for serving others and her career as a Registered Nurse has provided her many opportunities to serve vulnerable populations. Brandy looks forward to many more years within healthcare and plans to attend a university to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Degree with plans to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Brandy Zwicker received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) from Montana State University-Bozeman in 2009. She began working in the oncology unit, caring for patients with terminal cancer. Brandy explained, “As a new graduate, I was intimidated to care for patients with terminal cancer diagnoses and end-of-life patients. As I grew in my nursing practice, I grew as a person, and my evolution from a timid nurse to a confident advocate of cancer patients was inevitable. My passion became evident within myself, to those I cared for, and my nursing peers. My heart to serve not only the patient’s medical needs but the patients’ and families’ emotional needs as well has been, unequivocal.”
Over the past decade, Brandy has cared for hundreds of end-of-life-patients, and she feels that it’s a genuine privilege, not just a career. Her father, Gordie, was only 67 when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Advocating for an increased awareness of lung cancer is extremely important to Brandy Zwicker, especially given the fact that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) CANCER was the second leading cause of death in the United States in 2017 behind heart disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women annually.
Brandy Zwicker continued, “As a nurse, I’ve felt just how frightening a cancer diagnosis can be and to consider the consequences of cancer is devastating! Many people are reluctant to go to their doctor for fear of the worst possible diagnosis and may hesitate to seek care. This was true for my dad; hoping for the best while at the same time feeling that nagging fear. I suspected my dad had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as a result of his smoking history with a strong suspicion that he had lung cancer too. I spoke with him about both on occasion. I asked him if he would go in and have tests to check for both and he would tell me that he would “die” when the good Lord saw fit. It was his fear of the diagnosis that inevitably snuffed out his beautiful life.”
After thinking he was suffering from pneumonia, Gordie was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer; in the hospital for only three days, with his family by his side, he died from this harrowing disease.
Brandy despondently stated, “My dad, Gordon Joseph Suda, is forever lost to this world because of his fear of lung cancer.” Brandy Zwicker was nominated to represent North Dakota in Washington D.C. as a Lung Force Hero, where she asked for additional funding for lung cancer research.
Getting regular cancer screenings is imperative—An Early Diagnosis SAVES LIVES!