The Childhood Cancer Blog

Inspiration at the Bedside: Meet Heroes and SuperSibs Who Became Nurses

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Cara, above, was just 12 years old at the time of her sister’s diagnosis. She remembers her sister's nurses as a constant source of encouragement. Today, Cara's sister is cancer-free and Cara is a pediatric oncology nurse.

By: Trish Adkins

When Taylor was battling osteosarcoma as a teenager, nurses left a big impact on her life. 

“The selflessness and positive attitude of my nurses made all the difference for me,” said Taylor.  

Inspired by that experience, Taylor decided to go to nursing school with an aim to be the kind of nurse that could offer the same support and strength to other families. She graduated from nursing school and went to work in a pediatrician’s office, providing kids kindness and support through sometimes scary medical check-ups. 

For families facing cancer, nurses provide invaluable support, expertise and guidance. From managing day-to-day care, to answering questions, to guiding families through clinical trials and offering seemingly endless support. These amazing nurses also inspire childhood cancer heroes and their siblings to pursue the same path of service, expertise and support. 

Meet the childhood cancer heroes and SuperSibs turned nurses:

Cara Horsfield was entering into eighth grade when she heard the worst words she had ever heard in her life: “Your sister has cancer.” Cara’s older sister, Cait, was just about to turn 16 and now would be battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

Cara remembers how much time the nurses took to make her sister feel special and also to care for her entire family. They took care of Cara too. Cara was just 12 years old at the time of her sister’s diagnosis, confused and scared. She remembers those nurses as a constant source of encouragement. 

Today, Cait is cancer-free, and the nurses that Cara met as a SuperSib inspired Cara to follow in their footsteps.

“There are so many moving parts to a pediatric cancer care team who provide treatment to patients like my sister, but the role which resonated the most with me was that of the nurse. They were not just medical professionals who provided care, but people who made days enjoyable and life livable,“ said Cara.


As a child, Jennifer was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare cancer that originates in the lobes of the liver. While in treatment, Jennifer’s nurse Pat Brophy, who was also Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Founder Alex Scott’s nurse, supported Jennifer and her parents through a scary, uncertain time. Jennifer pursued nursing — eventually working as a pediatric oncology nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the hospital that treated her as a child.

“As I got older, I began to recognize the passion Pat brought to her job and realized that she had the same impact on hundreds of other patients and families. Years after treatment, she was one of the first people who encouraged me to consider nursing, mentioned somewhat in passing but taken to heart as I considered potential career paths. Although Pat is no longer alive, her impact and legacy lives on through the patients and families on whom she left a lasting impact. I think about her often and I hope to bring a fraction of her dedication and compassion to my role as I care for more kids with cancer,“ said Jennifer. 


When her brother, Jimmy, was being treated for leukemia, a nurse showed Cass Butler how a blood transfusion worked and let Cass pretend to be a nurse too. In that moment, Cass, who was just 10 years old, decided that she would become a nurse when she grew up. Today, Cass is a nurse and credits her empathy and compassion to the nurses she watched care for her brother. 

“Pediatric cancer changes a family in a way nothing else really can. I’ve had a deep appreciation for the value of life since that year," said Cass. 

During his treatment, Jimmy required a bone marrow transplant and Cass was a match. That transplant saved her brother’s life — and despite the pain of the transplant, Cass says she would do it all over again. 

Today, Jimmy is cancer-free and works as an EMT. Cass, who began her nursing career working in critical care for adults, including time in the COVID-19 ICU during the start of the pandemic, is now working in critical care for children. 

Nurses Week is celebrated each May to honor the incredible health care practitioners who make a difference in the lives of patients every single day. Learn more about the job of pediatric oncology nurses here