When I was 44 years old, I had a couple of strokes. It was then that my doctors discovered that I had a congenital heart defect, a hole in my heart. Because it’s a condition most commonly found and treated in children, I had surgery at Mott by a pediatric cardiologist. While I’d been a nurse for nearly 20 years at that point, I decided that I wanted to work where I could make the most difference. I’ve been working in pediatric oncology ever since.
In my job, I help families and patients navigate the journey they take when a child is diagnosed with cancer. Our clinic has Nurse Navigators – each of us are responsible for a certain patient population. I work especially closely with patients in the Solid Tumor Oncology Program. Each of our patients is seen in clinic for evaluation, blood counts, etc, before each round of chemotherapy and also for any worrisome symptoms between treatments.
When a family is home and has questions about medications, symptoms they are having, lab results, home care or anything else, they call the clinic and I can help them. I work to develop relationships with the patients and families so they can know I’m someone they can rely on for answers when they are at home. I consider it a privilege to help these families on their journey.
About four years ago, I started a campaign called Tackle Childhood Cancer to help raise awareness for pediatric cancers. My son was playing college football at Northwood University and I asked the athletic director if we could invite some kids with cancer to a game and make it a special day for them. He was completely on board. Our patients/families have been going back to Northwood University for 4 years now. They even dedicate a football game to our oncology patients. Everyone involved in the game truly enjoys the day. It’s great to see our patients’ faces – the kids feel very special because of all the attention throughout the game. Each patient is also “adopted” by a football player so they get some special time with one of the guys on the field. Many of these children and their football players stay in contact with each other over the course of treatment and even after. Other Universities that invite our patients and families for a special day with them include Hillsdale College, Grand Valley State University and Michigan Tech.
As Mott Children’s Hospital started to establish the Block Out Cancer initiative, we’ve joined up with that effort to make our message even stronger and reach more people. We raise money, but more importantly we raise awareness.
In the nine years I’ve been a nurse in pediatric oncology, I’ve seen tremendous progress in the treatments we have to offer and survival rates. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital plays a big role in conducting research that really makes a difference. Every day I see kids who are benefiting from research or who are participating in a clinical trial. It’s rewarding to know that we are not only caring for our patients, but also discovering new ways to help them and other children down the road.
Take the next steps:
- Discover how you can play a part in the fight to Block Out Cancer.
- Learn more about Pediatric Cancer Research at Mott.
- Read more about the Mott Children’s Hospital Solid Tumor Oncology Program.
Block Out Cancer is a rallying cry for people from all walks of life to come together to support the fight against children’s cancers. Everyone has a role to play. Learn more about how you can help Block Out Cancer.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” in 2014, and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine.