For many CURE Childhood Cancer families, nurses become family. While they care for sick children, they also seem to find a way to care for their entire families. Nurses know the power of a kind word, a caring touch, a sympathetic ear. They probe the depth of the human condition – the strength and suffering of the body, mind, heart, and spirit.
During this Nurses’ Week, CURE celebrates our nurses, each of whom truly embodies the spirit of giving and caring at its finest, and is highlighting some of those who are helping our families each and every day.
Meet, Kaitlyn Haygood, a nurse who treats our families at Scottish Rite.
“The reason I became a nurse is the same reason I wanted to become a pediatric oncology nurse. I was affected by cancer at the young age of 11. My sister and best friend, Ashlee Shea Haygood, was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma in 2000 and started treatment at Egleston Children’s Hospital. She fought a long and hard fight for 18 months before losing her battle in May of 2002.
The nursing staff at Egleston became our family. They provided incredible care to my sister and involved the whole family. They inspired me to pursue, not only nursing but, a career in pediatric oncology. It became my calling.
After graduating, I was hired on at the Alfac unit at Scottish Rite as a pediatric oncology nurse!
In my short time on Aflac, I have had the privilege to meet some amazing patients! One of my fondest memories is with a boy named JT who was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma. I was able to watch his journey from diagnosis to remission, and it was one of the sweetest and most rewarding experiences I’ve been a part of. He is one of the liveliest little men I know! Instead of waiting to lose his hair, he shaved it into a Mohawk and dyed it green. Most of all, he loved playing with motorcycles! So one day another nurse and I created an obstacle course around the unit for his motorized motorcycle. He spent all day racing his motorcycle around the unit! Best day ever! He is now in remission and all his scans are clear!
However, there are struggles that come with being a pediatric oncology nurse. What we do is difficult emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We care for children who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and are being treated with chemo therapy/radiation, etc. that is so harsh on their bodies. We also get attached to so many of our patients that we go through all of their ups and downs with them. It’s not always easy.
The rewards of our job are what makes all the struggles worth it. Our patients are incredible! Their resilience, joy, and overall outlook on life is astounding. They have impacted and changed my life forever. The greatest overall reward is watching a child win their battle with cancer and go into remission!”
Thank you, Kaitlyn, for all that you do for our children and families!