LITTLE ROCK, Ark — It's officially National Nurses Day, which means that the weeklong celebration for our healthcare heroes has now kicked off.
In honor of that celebration, we wanted to share the journey of one Arkansas nurse who went from patient to caregiver.
From an early age, Taylor Slaughter always had a vision for her future.
"I always knew since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a nurse," she said.
That dream became a reality in 2015 when Slaughter got accepted into UAMS' nursing program. This was great news for her, but following her acceptance, life had other plans.
"I started chemo the day I got my acceptance letter to nursing school. I decided, all right, this gives me something to fight for," she said.
One month before Slaughter got her acceptance letter, the 20-year-old was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer following countless doctor appointments trying to diagnose the issue.
"It was almost like, okay, now we know what's wrong finally. Now, let's see what we can do about it," she said. "I tried to always have a positive attitude and never question why? I just knew that this was my journey and I needed to do what I had to do to get through it."
Slaughter's journey took her to Houston, where she went through intense high-dose chemotherapy.
After completing her last day of therapy, Slaughter never questioned getting back into her scrubs and finishing what she started.
"My diagnosis just showed me right then and there, you can do this. You just went through it, so you can do it. You can help and assist those other patients going through their hard times," she said.
Now, 7 years later, that's exactly what Slaughter does each day as a nurse at the UAMS Cancer Institute. Slaughter admits that working with patients who are going through what she went through isn't always easy.
"I will say at first, you do have survivor's guilt. It's really hard. You wonder 'why me? Why not this patient?' But at the end of the day, I just have to remember that was my journey and that this is theirs," she said.
Slaughter isn't just helping these patients with medicine and infusions, she's also helping them by using her own story and experience.
"Sometimes I have patients, women specifically, that are nervous about losing their hair. I sit down and show them my Instagram photos of this is me with no hair, and I even had a mohawk when I first shaved my head," she said.
With survivor imprinted on Slaughter's arm, this healthcare hero is reminded every day of what she went through and wakes up every morning ready to fight that same fight by her patients' sides.
"It made me to be a better nurse today," she said.