December 15, 2015, was just a normal day for the Smith family, until Ryan went to the hospital with gastric pain. Less than a month later, on January 9, the family received devastating news. Ryan had acute leukemia.
“You’re worried because they’re facing a life or death situation, and you know that. And this was not anything you had planned. You’re worried about your kids, because they are young and vulnerable. You’re worried about your future. You’re worried about your kids’ future. And it’s natural, I think, to start thinking about worst-case possibilities,” said Jennifer, Ryan’s wife.
The Smith family spent a lot of time at the Sarah Cannon Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in Austin, Texas, and Jennifer was moved by the compassion Ryan’s cancer team showed her family.
“I was just so impressed by the level of compassion and the level of intelligence these nurses had. I mean, I was amazed. And I was, of course, inspired by everything I saw and the people that were surrounding both of us.”
It wasn’t only the compassion that touched Jennifer. She was also inspired by the medicine. Jennifer took action and earned her nursing degree. Now, she works with cancer patients at the Sarah Cannon Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, the same hospital where Ryan received his blood and marrow transplant.
“We’ve come out the other end. Cancer is not part of our lives on a day-to-day basis, personally. It’s now a passion project I get to work on every day. I have nothing but good things to say about St. David’s. Obviously, I feel indebted to them for many reasons and am proud to be a St. David’s nurse now.”