In July 2016, my daughter, Sarah Graff, began her career with Ascension Seton as a new graduate nurse on the oncology floor at Seton Medical Center Austin. Eight short months later, in March 2017, Sarah was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She started noticing symptoms in February 2017, and after working three 12-hour shifts in a row, she went to her general practitioner for a checkup. She was immediately hospitalized at Seton Medical Center, on the same oncology floor on which she worked. Her co-workers became her caregivers. The doctors she took orders from became her doctors. After five grueling rounds of chemo and six months, Sarah was in remission and went back to work full time on the oncology floor in September 2017. During her treatments she became very sick from the side effects of chemo, staying in the hospital every month for a week or more each time.
Throughout her stays in the hospital, her co-workers became our family. It was comforting to Sarah to be in a familiar place, with familiar people, who we all came to love. We will never forget the excellent care and love the staff on 7 North provided. We experienced the excellent medical care from the staff, but we also experienced their love and support. Many times, kind words or a hug from the staff is what got us through the day. They are truly special people.
Since Sarah’s remission, she has become chemo certified, an Oncology Certified Nurse, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner at Texas State University. In May 2018 she presented an idea to the Seton Angels and received funds to purchase two recliners, in order to create an infusion room for outpatients on the oncology floor. The goal was to make patients more comfortable and not make them feel like they were staying in a hospital room. Sarah’s idea was adopted by the hospital and has grown into a concept to provide an outpatient infusion room to serve all patients.
Sarah is a unique oncology nurse who brings the perspective of a cancer patient to those she cares for. She is caring, empathetic, and can understand the emotions that go along with cancer treatment. As a caregiver while she was sick, we saw the many struggles and emotions, and while we were right by her side, we didn’t feel what she felt or think what she thought. Sarah brings that empathy and understanding to her patients.