When nurses are former patients

May 5, 2008 3:56:40 PM PDT
Everyone has a special reason for choosing his or her profession. This week is Nurses week... And for two nurses at the Children's Hospital, it has a very special meaning.

Melissa Eggear and Beth Kunzelman always wanted to be nurses...

And they always wanted to work at Children's Hospital -

Each has a special understanding of the place.

Both were once patients, too, facing serious illnesses.

At the age of 8, Melissa developed Hodgkins lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes.

She spent much of several months at the hospital, getting chemotherapy, transfusions, and other treatments.

Beth had severe liver disease, and a few years ago, when she was 15, she needed a transplant.

Throughout their struggles, one thing stood out about their days at the hospital.

Melissa says, "I remember my nurses."

Beth says, "When I think of CHOP, I think of nurses. They looked at me not as a sick child, but as a person. They wanted to know who I was when I wasn't sick."

Now, they quietly draw on those experiences in caring for patients.

Melissa says. "I know how scared they are, and they don't know what's going on."

Melissa and Beth know the simplest things mean the most when you're sick.

Beth says, "I think of the nurses who took the time, and they watched TV shows with me, and they did crossword puzzles with me."

9-year-old Brandon Smith, one of Beth's patients, says, "She is fun and cool."

Fellow nurses also appreciate their insights on how to heal the whole child.

Maggie Strang, M.S.N., their nurse manager at CHOP, says, "They act as role models for other staff, in formulating tactics and techniques that will be effective, but cause less stress on the child. I hope I can hold onto them for a long time."