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Patients in the Spotlight: Paige Durham

Pediatric Nurses Inspire Leukemia Patient to Follow in their Footsteps

Paige DurhamJust two months before her high school graduation, Paige Durham started feeling a horrible pain in her left leg. “I’m not one to complain, so when I asked my mom to take me to the ED, it was a big deal,” Paige recalled.

Paige’s instincts about the urgency of her situation were spot on. Some tests, x-ray exams and blood work at the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Department at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) revealed a scary truth: Paige had leukemia. There are a lot of ways that an 18-year-old could take such jarring news. As the senior class president at Lyons High School with a few college credits already under her belt, Paige had a world of possibility in front of her. It’s hard to imagine having the content of one’s character tested at such a hope-filled age.

Yet Paige’s optimistic spirit endured. She doesn’t remember much about the physical and emotional pain she felt when she first learned of her life-threatening diagnosis. What she does remember speaks worlds of the powerful spirit behind the once ailing teen. Paige remembers the kindness of the nurses at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital who treated her.

“I really, really liked it, honestly,” said Paige. “Getting used to any hospital is difficult, especially when you’re thrown into it, but I loved all the nurses up there and the atmosphere – the biggest thing was the nurses and how friendly everyone was.”
Paige stayed in the hospital six weeks after her initial admission. Her weakened immune system brought Paige back to the hospital several times, but she graduated on time, with her friends. Laurie Milner, M.D., associate professor of Hematology and Oncology at Golisano Children’s Hospital, saw Paige frequently to help her fight the leukemia with chemotherapy treatment and on July 28, Milner assisted Paige with a successful bone marrow transplant.

Today, a year and a half after Paige began her battle with cancer, Paige is doing remarkably well and is on her way to getting a Bachelor’s degree in nursing at Roberts Wesleyan College.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field,” said Paige, “Getting to know the nurses on the pediatric and bone marrow transplant units inspired me that much more. I know what type of nurse I want to be because of the wonderful nurses I was touched by at the hospital.”