My Nurse's Guidance and Compassion Helped Me Survive Myelodysplastic Syndrome

The expertise, guidance and overall compassion of Katherine Caprinolo, B.S.N., RN have quite literally helped me survive these past two years.

When I heard about the Extraordinary Healer Award®, I knew I had to nominate my nurse, Katherine Caprinolo, B.S.N., RN. Her expertise, guidance and overall compassion have quite literally helped me survive these past two years. I received a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome in March 2020, just when the world was starting to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I was seven months pregnant. To say I was scared is the understatement of the year, but Katie always made herself available to me for questions and concerns and became a calming presence in my life.

After the early birth of my healthy baby girl, I began five rounds of outpatient chemo that unfortunately seemed to have little effect on the disease. My care team decided that a more aggressive inpatient chemotherapy was my best chance at remission to prepare for a stem cell transplant.

I’m a teacher, and because school was virtual at the time I was able to continue to work through treatments. Katie was so accommodating in scheduling all of my appointments. I rarely missed a class. She even helped me set up to teach from the hospital when I was inpatient for a month. Although she’s assigned to the outpatient infusion center, Katie made a point to visit me on the inpatient ward. She made an appointment for me at the hospital wig fitting center. Due to COVID-19, visitors were restricted at this time, and the doctors said I would need a nurse escort to go to the wig store. It was wonderful having my friend Katie there — she knew what my hair looked like before and offered her opinions.

The chemotherapy in October 2020 resulted in my remission, and my care was transferred to a transplant team. I received a stem cell transplant in February 2021. Everything seemed to go well and I recovered quickly, but unfortunately I began showing signs of relapse in June 2021. Back to outpatient oncology I went, and Katie once again was there for me every step of the way.

When my school returned to in-person instruction last fall, my doctors did not feel it was safe for me to work. In preparing for my second transplant, I’ve had many appointments and treatments. It seems like there are endless hoops to jump through and paperwork to fill out when one needs to take medical leave and not lose their health coverage. Katie has been absolutely amazing in helping me navigate through all of those challenges, too. She always gets forms back to me in a timely manner and, though she’d probably deny it, I know she answers some of my emails from home.

She is the definition of someone who goes above and beyond in patient care. This past Christmas she even bought my daughter an adorable gift.

Although I hope and pray this next transplant is the cure I need and I’ll spend much less time in the hospital in the upcoming years, I know I gained a lifelong friend through this experience and I will never forget all Katie has done for me.

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