A childhood cancer survivor inspired to help others heal

A childhood cancer survivor inspired to help others heal

When I was young, I was a hyperactive kid who loved to make people laugh. I dreamed of being in advertising and wanted to create commercials – especially the little jingles that go along with those commercials. That all changed during the summer between my junior and senior year in high school, when, I became very weak, very tired and very sick.

In July of 1987, I was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and spent six months in a children’s hospital. During those really sick times, I watched some truly incredible people give all of themselves so that patients like me could survive: my nurses. Those people were my heroes. They inspired me to pursue nursing as a career myself – not just because they helped save my life, but also because beating the odds was something I needed to share with those who needed to hear it.

As a nurse, I worked in direct patient care for 15 years until my oncologist told me that if I continued working with patients, I could lose my own life because of my health history (my spleen ruptured and I developed acute pneumococcal sepsis during my bout with leukemia). I took on a non-clinical role that allowed me to continue pursuing my passion of nursing while at the same time taking care of my own health.

Yet in February of 2014, life threw another curveball: I was diagnosed with stage 3, triple negative breast cancer, a particularly negative type of cancer that is more likely to recur than other subtypes. After beating leukemia, I thought to myself, “Bring it on.” I was determined: Cancer was not going to control my thoughts, my feelings, and certainly not my life.

While undergoing chemotherapy, I would tell stories to other breast cancer patients of my previous battles with cancer and how as a nurse, I witnessed the miracles of human strength in the patients I cared for. My personal battle against breast cancer gave me the opportunity to directly affect others’ lives in a positive way. I knew that this was the perfect time for me not only to be a survivor, but also to be a nurse who could encourage and inspire those who truly need it.

There were some really tough times during my breast cancer journey, but my days were always better when I had a nurse who was attentive, happy and genuinely wanted to be there to help others. Those qualities are easy to spot in my experience as both a patient and a nurse.

Things in life that are worthwhile are never easy, but when the result is surviving, there’s nothing better. I am a breast cancer survivor who knows firsthand that when we put our minds to it, we can accomplish anything. Be strong, stay positive and always enjoy a good laugh.

Amy Seratt, RN, BSN, is a nurse in the Level I Trauma Services Department at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

Kristen and Amy

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  1. Margaret Delaney October 3, 2016 at 10:54 am · Reply

    Awesome picture Amy, you are an inspiration to all of us!

  2. Amy is an incredible person and is so inspiring – I am grateful to know her!

  3. Amy your courage and strength amazes me. I love you girl, stay strong your such an inspiration to us all???

  4. You’re beautiful – inside and out! Thank you for all you give to others through your strength, positive outlook, and sense of humor! You truly model your advice to us!

  5. From one breast cancer survivor to another-you are truly awesome! Keep that positive mindset and continue to inspire others to stay strong and optimistic. “Where faith and hope grows, miracles blossom.”

  6. Sharon Messenger October 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm · Reply

    You put it so well when you said as a nurse you “witnessed the miracle of human strength” in your patients. Being a nurse has often inspired me that way, and I hope you see that miracle of strength in yourself.

  7. You are an angel here on earth – love you!

  8. Nellie McCarthy October 4, 2016 at 9:01 am · Reply

    Amy you are such a strong, caring person and you continue to inspire anyone who enters your life. You live mind-over-matter every day. Love you.

  9. Amy- you are an inspiration to us all!
    I look forward to seeing again really soon!

  10. Amy- thank you for sharing your story! You really are an inspiration to so many people!!
    See you really soon!

  11. Jackie Brenchley October 4, 2016 at 9:56 pm · Reply

    Thanks Amy, be good and stay safe.

  12. keep up the good work Aim!!

  13. Amy is a true inspiration to human kind. I am lucky to have her as a friend.

  14. Wanda piazza seidl October 6, 2016 at 8:48 pm · Reply

    Amy!!!! I miss your awesome face AND our “back in the day” stories of our past ER experiences as nurses. Love your article and love that you’ve shared your cancer experiences with the rest of the world. As always, still caring for others. Even in your experiences as a patient, you are still providing excellent nursing care for those around you. Love you bunches my friend!!

  15. I love how you tell cancer to F*** OFF. You are tough as nails and always have been. You have always been a spitfire. Nothing can beat you. Amy you are chromium steel and YOU WILL WIN.
    Your Friend Always. George Bunker.

  16. Amy
    You are amazing ,sweet ,crazy ,happy ,funny, compassionate ,tender hearted, determined, focused and a “bring it on” kick ass girl !
    You are my hero : )

  17. The seeds of your strength were present before your diagnosis in high school. Your laugh and kindness to others, your ability to find the humor in most any situation, and your sheer positive energy are distinctive Amy characteristics I remember from our friendship in high school. The adult Amy, however, has turned those personal attributes into indelible gifts of love to others, whether those others are your patients or your colleagues or even you long-lost high school pals who rarely get to see you. God bless you and keep you close, Amy.

  18. Love you…but…..I saw you at SOXFEST a few years ago….what’s that about you with Cub folks …………………..

  19. Mary MacDiamrid October 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm · Reply

    Fantastic story about a TRULY fantastic woman.

  20. An inspiration with a mission,,,always over-coming obstacles,,,always humbling for me.

  21. It has been a great joy to know and work along side Amy at Advocate. She inspires and truly cares for everyone that crosses her path. The suffering and devastation cancer caused her is unimaginable…

    Amy, you have chosen to turn horrible situations into blessings for others. That, my friend makes you a HERO. ?

  22. Amy, your strength, grace and courage inspire me- you are a gift to all who know you!

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About the Author

Amy Seratt, RN, BSN
Amy Seratt, RN, BSN

Amy Seratt, RN, BSN, is a nurse in the Level I Trauma Services Department at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.