On Christmas Eve 2007, a then-12-year-old Brooke Routon was an inpatient at Children’s of Alabama, where she was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma – a rare type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells.
Brooke’s symptoms began with fatigue and swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Her family doctor at first suspected mononucleosis, or mono, but all tests returned negative results. Brooke was referred to a surgeon for a neck biopsy. The surgeon, in turn, immediately referred her to Children’s of Alabama.
At the start of what would be a two-and-a-half-year treatment journey, Brooke remembers how her care team made sure she would spend Christmas at Children’s with the people she loved most. “I have two sisters and a brother who were at home on Christmas Eve, so they moved me to an adjoining room so we could all be together on Christmas Day,” she said.
Brooke continued, “The doctors and nurses who took care of me were fantastic. Everyone was always fantastic, from the employees at the Go Store to the child life specialists. After my experience at Children’s, I knew I wanted to be a pediatric oncology nurse.”
August 2020 marked two years since Brooke, now cancer-free, joined Children’s as a pediatric oncology nurse. She can’t imagine working anywhere else or with anyone else.
“I want to take care of kids who have cancer and I want to be a light in the dark for them because I know what they are going through,” Brooke said. “I acknowledge that my patients are going through an awful and terrible experience, but I also encourage positivity – You’re going to get through this, you’re going to look back and see what an impact you’ve made on your family and your community, and hopefully it will inspire you like it inspired me.”