Pediatric Nurse And Patient Share Special Bond

Northwestern Medicine
Pediatrics May 04, 2022
Averie Lazzara first met Jamie Rogers, a pediatric outpatient nurse at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, when Averie was 2 years old and starting treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Though it took a couple weeks for Averie to warm up to Rogers, the two soon developed a special bond that they still share today.

Now 6 years old, Averie is 18 months cancer-free and comes back for checkups every two months. The spunky girl with red hair often wears child-sized scrubs to her appointments and plays nurse alongside Rogers in the hospital’s Pediatric Outpatient Center.

“She is the cutest, most fun little girl you’ll ever meet,” Rogers said. “The first couple weeks she was still getting used to us, but once she did, her personality came through, and she just wanted to play.”

Rogers has experienced many heartwarming moments with Averie over the years. One that stands out is an “All About Me” paper Averie filled out at preschool. A fill-in-the-blanks sentence said, “I want to be nurse Jamie when I grow up.”

“It was honestly the biggest compliment ever, and it just made my whole day,” Rogers said.

During her clinic visits, Averie often played doctor or nurse with Rogers and other staff members. Her personality captured the hearts of many, including her physician, Ammar Hayani, MD, pediatric hematologist and oncologist for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at Central DuPage Hospital.

“Averie has a lovely, outgoing personality,” Dr. Hayani said. “She is very easygoing and loved by all team members in the clinic, but she developed a special relationship with Jamie. That relationship helped Averie and her family get through the rough days of cancer treatment.”

As Averie began treatment, Rogers immediately connected with her parents, Stacy and Mark. She knows supporting the parents of her patients is just as important as supporting the patients themselves.

“Working with parents is a huge part of being a pediatric nurse,” Rogers said. “Since becoming a parent myself, I feel like I’m such a better nurse because I can relate to how the parents are feeling. They look to us for reassurance and comfort when they’re here, and to understand what’s normal and what’s not.”

That additional support makes all the difference to families like the Lazzaras.

“Having a child go through cancer treatment can be so overwhelming, but Jamie has been a rock for our family through it all,” Stacy Lazzara said. “She’s answered every question of mine and held my hand through every challenge without once making me feel inadequate.”

Despite more than two years of chemotherapy, steroid pulses and spinal taps, Averie looks back at her time in treatment and thinks of the positive memories first. Her mother believes if it weren’t for the impact of Rogers’ relationship with Averie, Averie’s experience could have been much more challenging.

“I think what’s especially powerful is that it was not one big thing Jamie did to make a monumental impact, but rather a million little things,” Stacy Lazzara said. “She took what could have been a really traumatizing experience for Averie and found a way to infuse joy into her days. That’s a gift I could never put a value on.”

The Pediatric Outpatient Center at Central DuPage Hospital has three clinical areas. Its clinical partnership with Lurie Children’s provides access to more than 140 Lurie Children’s pediatric specialists. For more information, visit Lurie Children's at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital | Winfield, IL | Northwestern Medicine.
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