I Am Seattle Children's

Kiflom Bahtai: I Am Home

Kiflom Bahtai

Registered nurse, Seattle Children's Cancer Care Unit

I got a summer job working at Seattle Children’s Hospital after my sophomore year in college. For those few months, I was more at ease than I’d ever been.

I was born in Eritrea at the height of a civil war, and I never knew peace in my home country. I wasn’t sure if I would survive from one day to the next until my family fled to Sudan when I was 7.

My childhood taught me that if you don’t have peace, you can’t function. I felt such kinship with the medical teams at Seattle Children’s who gave families peace of mind when illness turned their lives upside down. They inspired me so much that I quit studying to be a pilot and went to nursing school so I could be part of the team on Seattle Children's Cancer Care Unit .

Twenty years ago, my summer job changed the course of my life. Now, I fight alongside incredibly brave children and their families every day. I do my best to give them hope, positive energy and peace of mind.

I keep a note from a patient on my refrigerator that says: “You took away the fear of having chemo for the first time.” Every morning when I see that note, I’m grateful to be doing my life’s work.

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Published in Connection magazine, April 2014