Patient sends thank you emails
When she was 4 years old, a risky surgery saved her life and made South Carolina history. How she’s still showing her gratitude almost 19 years later.
Ross Johnson wants to become a nurse because of the nurses who took care of him when he was a patient at MUSC Children’s Hospital. Ross was 10 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called synovial sarcoma. He had surgery at MUSC to remove a large, painful tumor on his right foot, followed by 32 radiation treatments. The radiation killed the cancer but burned his foot from the skin down to the bone.
It took a team of surgeons to rebuild his foot. First, they had to remove what the radiation had destroyed. “Three surgeons – a plastic surgeon, a hand surgeon, and an orthopedic surgeon – took 12 hours to basically cut everything out of my foot from the top down to the bone,” Ross said. Then they began the process of reconstructing his foot with skin and blood vessels from his stomach.
It was the first of six reconstructive surgeries and a lot of time in the children’s hospital. It was during one of his many stays that he realized how important nurses are. “That’s who I saw all day, every day,” he said. “They had a major impact on my life. They showed me the importance of a nurse and what they can do for not only the patient, but their family.
“And I was like, that’s the job I want.”
That’s why Ross is so excited to be part of the Class of 2020 at the MUSC College of Nursing. “It’s the greatest achievement in my life so far,” said Ross, who is the first in his family to go to college. “There's not a single day that I don't look at my scrubs, or the logo, or the name of the building and let it slip by that I'm definitely here.
“To be part of this system and the program that produced the nurses and doctors that saved my life, is mind blowing.”
Ross says the day he found out he wouldn’t have to pay any tuition was pretty “mind blowing” too. “I didn't think it was real,” he said. “And just no words can explain how grateful I am.”
Ross is the recipient of the Roper St. Francis Healthcare Patron Nursing Scholarship. It covers his full tuition at the College of Nursing. In exchange, he has committed to working at Roper St. Francis Hospital for a year after he graduates. Getting this scholarship is a huge relief for Ross. “That was the biggest stressor coming in – the financial aid process and getting approved for loans and knowing that I planned on coming on here with $40,000 plus in debt, and was going to be competing for a job in this area.”
Getting the scholarship is also motivating Ross to do his best. “I sit there and just think, someone had a lot of faith and trust that I'm going to be good nurse, and was willing to give me a full ride.
“Just knowing that I'm not doing this just for myself and for my family, but also for someone else,” Ross said. “It's definitely very, very cool to know that I have someone else on my team now and looking out for me.”
Ever wonder what happens when you support MUSC with a charitable contribution? We want to tell you! Each month we trace donations to outcomes and share stories about the power of giving and the spirit of philanthropy in an e-newsletter called Thank-You Notes.