When an IU Health Arnett certified nurse anesthesiologist was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) her co-workers came out in force to show support.
“My mom saved my life.”
Jing Yang speaks the words slowly but sincerely as she describes her diagnosis. At 37, Yang was busy raising her two sons – ages 9 and 23 months – and enjoying life with her husband, Allen Garner.
“When you have young kids, you just keep going. You don’t stop to think about what might be wrong. You focus on your family,” said Yang. But it was her mom who noticed Yang was more pale than usual and suggested she see a doctor.
“I felt healthy. I like to go swimming, play Badminton. I take my son to tennis and soccer. We like to read and play basketball. I was busy and couldn’t imagine being sick,” said Yang.
A certified nurse anesthesiologist, Yang is the third generation of nurses – both her mom and grandmother pursued the profession. “I didn’t feel any different and I didn’t think I looked any different but my mom thought better,” said Yang. She also had several bruises on her legs.
“I was almost embarrassed to go to the doctor because I didn’t feel sick. I just had bruises and I didn’t know how I got them,” said Yang, who was born in China, the only child of Shanmin Yang and Guanghua Wang. Her parents moved to the States in 2000 and have moved in with Yang and her family since her diagnosis. A graduate of Albany Medical College in New York, Yang joined IU Health two years ago.
It was the evening of July 24 when she received the news. She had just finished giving the boys a bath. Her husband was on active duty with the Navy and was in Washington, DC. He returned home immediately and they began lab work to confirm the diagnosis. Chemotherapy followed and now Yang is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Her co-workers at Arnett have said Yang is always smiling. They love her laugh and her upbeat personality. They describe her as a sweet caring team member and practitioner.
On September 29, her co-workers will host a bone marrow registry at the Arnett Family Fun Day 5K Run/Walk. Anyone in good health between the ages of 18 and 44 can be tested with a simple cheek swab. Registration can also be completed online at www.bethematch.com. The best match for Yang will be someone of Chinese or Asian decent.
“Oh my gosh, my co-workers have been amazing,” said Yang. “I was not expecting it at all. They are so supportive mentally and physically.” They have volunteered days off to be with her during her hospital stay, helped raise funds, donated their time off, connected her with support groups, and assisted with researching treatments and providers.
“So many days they let me know they care just by sending me a text or calling me to Face time and say, “Hi.’ I am so grateful for their support,” said Yang. “ One of the things I like best about nursing is helping people – making them feel safe and comfortable, and becoming a patient advocate. Now I’m seeing that from a different side.”
— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email email@example.com.