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Seattle Children’s cancer survivor becomes a caregiver

Many people go into medicine because they want to help others. But some of them follow that path because of the help they received. This is that story.

It takes a lot of good people to make a hospital, many of them came into medicine because they want to help. Experienced nurses are an essential part, and in the pediatric intensive care unit at Seattle Children’s, the experience can give patients hope.

ICU Technician Milton Wright checks in with 17-year-old Ashtyn Poulsen who is recovering from her third bone marrow transplant as she battles a rare form of leukemia.

“I’ve had leukemia three times; when I was 8, 15, and 20, and I’m almost at my five-year mark now, and I’m 25. I’m telling you as a cancer patient that your story is amazing to me,” said Milton.

Milton and Poulsen have more in common than their fight with cancer. Poulsen’s mom points out they share a need to help those who are less fortunate. Before her recent relapse, Poulsen had planned to be a nurse.

But it wasn’t always a clear path for Milton, who says he had different aspirations, like playing sports, when he was Poulsen’s age.

Four years ago, we shared Milton’s story after he had completed immunotherapy treatment at Seattle Children’s.

Milton was the second patient to beat Leukemia with a T cell transplant, and after nearly 12 years of battling cancer, it’s easy to understand why he would shy away from the medical setting.

He moved away from Seattle and worked odd jobs, and even took the test to become a police officer, but eventually got certified as a nursing assistant.

It had become part of his life.

“Yeah, I work at the same place that treated me, that saved my life I don't even know how many times. I mean this is like my passion more than just getting paid. I just like being here. Even when I wasn't working here I would still come here and talk to families,” Milton explained.

The world is full of role models; heroes can play sports or protect the public.

They can also inspire others to be brave.

“Being in a hospital where I could be saving lives, be there for somebody's last moment, making those connections with people, just that felt more genuine to myself,” said Milton.

Milton is almost finished with his first year of nursing school, and will soon celebrate his five-year mark of being cancer free.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s continue to develop new drugs and trials in their quest to find a cure for cancer.