My Time at Childrens

By Heidi Ullom

Tell us your story.

When I was younger, about middle-school age, I had decided I would be a wealthy and successful doctor when I grew up. The long hours at the hospital would not be a problem; I wasn't planning on having kids or getting married. Boys were stupid and I had been baby-sitting long enough to know that kids were trouble. I spent my free time coloring in an anatomy coloring book and told my mom that when I was rich, I would build her a house on the back of my property so we could live near each other.

As I grew older, and wiser, I realized that boys weren't that stupid and kids were kind of fun. In fact, I began to think that I may get married some day and become a pediatrician. But when it came time to fill out college applications and declare a major, I decided the people at my doctor's office who made the most impact on me were the nurses. They knew my name without looking at the chart, asked me how school was going, and held my hand and comforted me through uncomfortable procedures. Nurses had options of "having a life" outside of work, not being attached to a pager, and being able to spend more time with their families. I thought long and hard and decided nursing was the choice for me. I breathed a sigh of relief when I sent my application off to the University of Washington. I was on my way to becoming a nurse!

The fall of my sophomore year in college, just as I was applying to nursing school, one of our good friends died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was treated at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and died following his stem cell transplant. I was touched by he and his family and felt honored to be a part of his life and his death. I knew I had found my path and when I became a nurse, I would dedicate my time to the oncology patients at Children's.

What does Children's mean to you, your child and your family?

When I meet others and tell them I am an oncology nurse, I get the strangest response…one of mixed emotion: sadness, awe, and disbelief. I often hear, "Oh…That must be so hard. I don't think I could do that." Maybe not everyone can be an oncology nurse but I am proud that I can.

My work allows me to be a mother to my baby (the one my middle-school self never dreamed of having!) and a wife. And although I am not a wealthy doctor with expansive property and a guesthouse for my mom to live in, I am successful at what I do, and that's what matters most.

I have now been at Children's in the Hematology/Oncology program for 4 years. I love my work with the children and with my nursing colleagues. Their dedication to the patients and many years of experience continue to amaze me. The nurses find humor in their lives and spread joy and laughter to the children who need it most. I am extremely proud to work with women who are not only excellent nurses, but are cherished mothers, wives, and active members of the community.

Now that I am a nurse, a wife, and a mother, I look to my fellow nurses for guidance and encouragement. They are my mentors. They inspire me.