Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

Jennifer Smith was a stay-at-home mom when her husband, Ryan, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Now she is a nurse in the same unit where he was treated.

AUSTIN, Texas — Sometimes people find their calling through life’s biggest challenges. That was the case for one nurse at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

Jennifer Smith works in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. She doesn’t share her story often, but she has a special connection to her patients and their families.

“I know the things they are thinking. I know the things they’re worried about. I know the questions that they’re not asking,” explained Jennifer Smith, “the ones they really want the answer to, but don’t feel comfortable going there.”

She knows these things because she has spent time in these hospital rooms, before ever having the title of nurse.

“Walking into this place for me, as your place of employment, you know, where you work, not the place I get treated, is weird,” said Jennifer’s husband, Ryan Smith.

The exact unit where Jennifer now works is where Ryan was treated for leukemia and received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant back in 2016.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Ryan of his cancer diagnosis. “I was on a business trip to Montreal actually and got off the plane, and something wasn’t right. I went to the ER, went to the hospital, and the next day they said it was cancer and that I needed to have a bone marrow transplant.”

Ryan said looking back is hard because it is now something that is in the past. Ryan is now cancer-free and Jennifer is now helping others in similar situations.

At the time of Ryan’s diagnosis, she was a stay-at-home mom with their three children. But Jennifer found a love for health care and science when she was helping care for Ryan and knew she wanted to help others. She started nursing school the same year he received his transplant.

“Dr. Ramakrishnan, even at that time, was saying, ‘You’re going to end up being a nurse, aren’t you?’ Because she dove into it,” shared Ryan.

It was a calling that came through the hardest of times. Jennifer is back in that same hospital, in the same unit, answering that call with a heart full of purpose.

“It really does feel good to not only have made it through – that’s the biggest thing is that we got through this time – but also to feel like, you know, we’re giving back to other people that are going through the same experience,” said Jennifer. “It’s kind of come full circle.”

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