Child Caregiver: “They’re Like My Kids”

Megan LaTurner, has always been a caregiver, but now she’s the one who is receiving the attention of her team in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of University Hospital.

As she worked a puzzle on a recent cold and snowy day, Megan LaTurner was surprised by a warm hug from patient care assistant Emily Ramsey.

Normally, LaTurner is the one giving hugs, wiping tears and kissing boo-boos. She received an elementary education degree from the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne and has made a career in childcare.

“When I was in elementary school I needed speech therapy and it really made an impression on me – just that little bit of extra help. I love children and so that’s what I’ve always wanted to do – work with kids,” said LaTurner, 32, who is married to Adam LaTurner. Together they have a three-year-old son.

She met Adam at a friend’s house. “I showed up with pizza and he started calling me ‘pizza girl.’ It sort of stuck,” said LaTurner of Auburn, IN. Eventually they got married and life was good. They enjoyed doing outdoor activities with their son and Adam’s two children.

And LaTurner loved her daycare children. She usually had as many as four little ones ranging in age from six months to six years in her care. “There were some days I’d spend 12-13 hours with a couple of them,” said LaTurner. Parents tell her she’s “compassionate,” and “caring” and “would do anything” for their kids. “We’d go to the park together, take walks to get shredded frozen ice treats and I’d let them pick their favorite colors for flavoring. We’d make pizzas and decorate for holidays.”

It was one of the most difficult things she ever imagined when LaTurner had to tell her parents that she could no longer watch their children.

The community rallied – wearing orange “Team Megan” bracelets, selling candies, planning softball tournaments and chicken and noodle dinners – all to support LaTurner and her family.

It was Aug. 10, 2018 when LaTurner’s husband called an ambulance to their home after she complained of severe back and shoulder pain. She was rushed to a local hospital where tests confirmed she has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer where the marrow makes too many white blood cells. Under the care of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Mohammad Abu Zaid, she is receiving chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

“This a good place to be if you have to go through this,” said LaTurner. “I like my doctor and everyone here has been so warm and supportive. There are still a lot of tough days – like when I miss my son.”

To help her focus she got a tattoo on her left forearm with an orange ribbon, symbolizing leukemia awareness, with the word “Hope.” Her husband also got a large tattoo on his calf that reads: “Your fight is my fight.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
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