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Young nurse inspired by personal experience to care for others

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:30 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For Hannah Dreischmeier there’s nowhere she’d rather be than at the bedside of patients at UW Carbone Cancer Center. “The thing I like about nursing is my connection to my patients. It’s such an honor to be a small part of our patients' lives here. I truly mean that. I feel so lucky and so blessed to be able to come here every day and be healthy and be a provider and try to get somebody else to a healthier place”, Hannah said.

Before she started taking care of cancer patients at Carbone.... Hannah was a young cancer patient here herself. Reflecting on the role nurses played in her care, she said, “My nurses here got me through the tough days. My nurses became like my family. I saw them more in the 10 months that I went through treatment than I saw my family members. I mean they were the people taking care of me. They were so skilled, and so caring in taking care of me. They took an interest in my life...they made sure that I was taken care, that my parents were taken care of. They made sure my siblings were taken care of.”

At just 16 years of age, Hannah was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma—a rare bone cancer in the pelvis. She underwent ten months of treatment at UW Carbone—a life-altering experience that made her realize that one day she wanted to become a nurse herself—hopefully at Carbone.

She graduated in the top 10 of her high school class at DeForest, where her softball and volleyball teammates had stood by her side and supported her during her cancer ordeal.

She got accepted to UW-Madison, and in 2019 graduated from the School of Nursing. She then landed a job as an oncology nurse at UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Reflecting on how special it was to get a degree at UW-Madison and ultimately be able to care for cancer patients at the hospital that saved her own life, she said, “It meant that I was qualified to take care of people and be in the same position that those nurses were for me. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that without my cancer diagnosis and having been here and everything that happened I would have never become a nurse, and I would never have found my true calling.”

Hannah said having been a cancer patient herself gives her a unique perspective on being a nurse. “You know, when I say I’ve been there...I’ve been in your shoes… I truly mean that. I was in that bed, lying there getting chemotherapy. I was downstairs getting radiation. You know, I had the worst day of my life here too. So, it means a lot to be able to look at somebody or hold somebody’s hand, or take care of somebody and genuinely say, I know what you’re going through. I got through it, and you can get through it too. Or, I’m here for you.”

Wiping away a tear, she said, "If I could go back and talk to my 16-year-old self who was lying here getting treatment, first I’d tell her you can do this. You know, it’s tough and you’re going through a really hard time but that

doesn’t mean you can’t make it through. And I’d tell her to just be thankful. There’s always something to be grateful for. This is happening for a reason. You’re here for a reason...you’re getting better and seven years later, you’re here taking care of somebody who’s in the same place you were."

Healing and helping others in the very place that healed and helped her.

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