Being diagnosed with cancer as a young adult is unfathomable and, while no one is immortal, being diagnosed at such an age feels unnatural to say the least. It is a horrific and debilitating disease mentally, emotionally, and physically. In 2012 my world was torn apart when I was diagnosed with ph+ ALL so advanced that I was hospitalized to immediately start 6 rounds of aggressive chemo that could potentially afford me the opportunity to make it to transplant.
Of all of the help that I received at both UW and SCCA, I would like to recognize one woman in particular, Stacy Vanderhoff. Stacy continually goes above and beyond - not only for me but for my family as well. She is empathetic, passionate about her career, and as sharp as they come. Not only did Stacy catch inconsistencies and errors before they became problematic she also exuded empathy without ever making me scared or feel as though I was a victim or a charity case. Stacy was a safe haven amidst the utter chaos that is cancer. She gave me both confidence and hope, something not easily received when you're in a seemingly black hole fighting for your life. Stacy made me smile even on the darkest of days because of her contagious energy and smile. I am quite aware of how difficult being an oncology nurse truly is and Stacy never let anything show other than her expertise. Her knowledge coupled with her compassion made each stay at UW more bearable for my family and me, and her top-notch care allowed me to thrive and focus.
Admissions with Stacy as my nurse became a brief respite from the mournful dirge cancer continuously threatened to play. Today, I am elated to report that not only did I make it to transplant, I surpassed transplant and am currently 3.5 years cancer-free! Were it not for medical miracles and the amazing employees at UW and SCCA this would not be such a happy ending. While I owe a debt of gratitude to so many, Stacy is one of the most deserving and is my unsung hero. Please help me give back by honoring Stacy with what she so truly deserves; recognition which she has earned it ten times over!