Sarah Burlas

Sarah Burlas

Sarah Burlas, BSN, RN

T7 Hematology Cellular Therapy Unit
West Penn Hospital
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
United States
Sarah immediately jumped on board with my mindset and continued to run with it.

Since January, I had been dealing with inflamed lymph nodes in my neck. I had two rounds of bloodwork done that showed normal levels of everything, I worked with an integrative nutritionist to get my nutrition clean, started to see a neurological chiropractor getting adjustments and utilizing clean supplements, yoga, deep breathing, etc. The lymph nodes would go down and inflame again off and on.

In July, I had a specific panel of bloodwork done that again showed normal levels for everything, the only thing that was high was my level of acidity. So, with my chiropractor, we put another plan into place, and I continued to work through everything. The lumps continued to go up and down. Some would be very painful, and others never bothered me.

In October, the lymph node on the back of my neck got larger, painful and continued to get bigger. Eight days later I went to get an adjustment and my chiropractor suggested that it was time for me to go see the specialist. So, I called the ENT's office the next day and surprisingly they had an opening two days later. I took that appointment and the process began to unfold quickly.

I had a needle biopsy on my thyroid and the large nodule on the side of my neck. The thyroid came back benign; however, the large nodule came back inconclusive. My pain at this point was outrageous and unbearable. I ended up being admitted to the hospital four days after the biopsy for pain management; I was in the needle biopsy the very next morning first thing. I was released the next day and ended up back in the specialist's office because the pain was so unbearable. At that point, he sent me immediately down to surgery and took two fresh lymph nodes from under my left jawline to send off to Mayo Clinic.

My follow up appointment was in November; at this time my specialist said that we had answers and that he would be passing me off to the oncologist at that point to move forward. I was admitted to the hospital immediately and pain management began again. The oncologist came to my room shortly after being admitted and she suggested I go to OSU or Morgantown because they didn't have the equipment needed for treatment.

I had already asked a friend from Pittsburgh who is recommended for my type of diagnosis, I was referred to Dr. K in less than 10 minutes with the message: "He is great, very compassionate and is excellent at what he does!" When the oncologist in wheeling said I needed to get out of Wheeling, I immediately told her I wanted to be referred to Dr. K. She said, "Yes, I know him; he's great!" Within an hour I was transported to West Penn and admitted for the weekend. Of course, all of this information, pain, and hoping from doctors and hospitals over the last month is overwhelming, however, Sarah Burlas made my first treatment the most amazing it could've been.

While sitting with my husband on the couch, I started to cry as we moved toward the start of my first treatment. Sarah continued to work at her computer and have a positive personality. After five minutes I stopped myself and said, "Nope, this isn't how this is going to go. There are a few things we are going to do to make this journey more positive." Still working at her computer, I said, "First off, we aren't using the word Cancer or Chemo. We will say I have a horrible infection and we are going to kick its butt with Warrior Treatments." She looked up and said, "Yes, girl; I love that." She continued to use the word "warriors" through the entire treatment. She immediately jumped on board with my mindset and continued to run with it.

I will never forget Sarah, her positive energy or the way she took such great care of me. I was completely scared, and she made sure she did everything she could to keep me comfortable and positive. Her personality is exactly what I needed as I began this journey. You all have an amazing team on your hands; everyone we encountered was friendly and knowledgeable, however, Sarah will always hold a special place in my heart.