College student in remission and speaking out about lymphoma

Abigail “Abbi” Sarabyn, 22, recently learned her lymphoma is in remission and she’s back in school – working toward becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

Abigail “Abbi” Sarabyn was all smiles as she recently took part in a health and healing conference at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. Other cancer survivors joined her in telling their stories of hope.

After being diagnosed with Diffuse Large Cell B-Cell Lymphoma (DLCBL) Sarabyn took a break from her classes at IUPUI and started treatments at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. She is in the care of Dr. Jose Azar. DLCBL is a cancer that starts in the white blood cells and usually grows in lymph nodes- the pea-sized glands in the neck, groin, armpits and other parts of the immune system. It can grow fast but three out of four people are reportedly disease free after treatment.

Sarabyn is one of those people who recently learned she is in remission. Her diagnosis came during finals week. She thought she was just stressed but when she experienced shooting pains up her arm, she drove herself to urgent care. Scans showed a softball-size mass in chest and blood clots in her lower lobes. She began treatment in May.

She is the daughter of James and Kim Sarabyn and has a brother Matthew, 25.

Her mom said Abbi will continue cardiologist and oncologist visits every three to six months but is otherwise back to normal activities – including classes at IUPUI. After taking a semester off for treatment she is on track to graduate in 2021. A graduate of Pike High School, she has known since she was in the eighth grade that she wanted to study neuroscience. She has her sights set on becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon and also hopes to start a support group for young people fighting life-threatening illnesses.

Forty years strong – Director of nutrition services works for patient smiles

Jeffrey Jones started working for IU Health 40 years ago and every day he says he approaches his job with a grateful heart.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

When he started working at IU Health 40 years ago, Jeffrey Jones pushed a heavy heated cart through the halls of Methodist Hospital filled with patient trays. It took three food lines to prepare the meals.

Over the years, Jones moved to University Hospital where he eventually became the supervisor of nutrition services. He’s been a part of lots of changes during the past four decades.

“I saw it go from three lines to one line and the carts are way smaller. Then I saw it go from patients ordering off a menu to what we have now where we take an iPad to the room and the orders go straight to the kitchen,” said Jones.

His coworkers recently planned a celebration for Jones’ 40 years of dedication and his 60th birthday. They served punch, cupcakes and one of his favorite staple foods – hotdogs.

For a guy who works in food services, Jones’ tastes are simple – his breakfast is usually a Mountain Dew and a package of peanut butter crackers. He loves barbeque pork rinds, cheddar cheese, Oreos, Swiss cake rolls and turkey legs.

“When you work around food service all day, you just don’t want to cook when you get home and I’ve always been a picky eater,” said Jones.

In his years of serving patients he’s come to recognize their cravings and tastes. Oncology patients love the soft, sweet taste of watermelon, patients with cystic fibrosis crave fresh fruit cups, and patients who have received transplants want lots of bottled water. In general, patients love cheese potato casserole, French fries, breaded pork tenderloins, wings, rib tips, and cheese steak sandwiches.

He’s been known to go out of his way to get what patients want as long as it is on their diet.

“Jeff is exemplary of our values,” said his supervisor Lynn Glunt, manager of patient service nutrition and dietary. She has worked with Jones for about 28 years and said she’s always admired how he interacts with his team members and the patients.

“He does whatever it takes to keep things going. He runs the register if the café line gets too long and I’ve seen him wash pots and pans,” said Esther Scanlon, a food service worker who has been part of Jeff’s team for nearly two decades.

“He’s the definition of an actual leader. He won’t ask you to do anything he is unwilling to do. I find that a great attribute,” said another team member Arin Suttice.

Jones grew up in Alabama and moved to Indianapolis in 1978 in search of gainful employment. It wasn’t long after he began working at Methodist Hospital when he met his future wife, Janice Jones who has worked as an operating room assistant for 45 years. She and Jeffrey were married 35 years ago.

People who work alongside Jones say that like his favorite foods, Jones is a man of simple tastes and few words. He inspires others with the TEAM theory: “Together” “Everyone” “Achieve” “More.”

“I would like to think I’m not a supervisor who gives orders. All the success we have is as a team,” said Jones “I want to know that we all took care of the patients and I just want to be in the background.”

He drives a Mini Cooper to work from his northeast side home, and enjoys golfing, and tending to his 150-gallon tropical fish tank. He occasionally goes back to his childhood home.

“The best part of my job is seeing the patients smile,” said Jones. “I feel like every day I come to work, they’re the purpose and when I leave at the end of the day, I hope that I have made someone smile. It’s not about the money; it’s about making someone feel better.”

The Pillowcase Project at IU Health White Memorial

The Pillowcase Project is a Red Cross community service project where our nurses go to public schools and teach fourth and fifth graders the importance of disaster preparedness. It stems from hurricane Katrina where several college students were evacuating and threw all their belongings into a pillowcase. It was determined that if a pillowcase was created that listed some of the needed items to grab it would be a great way for kids to understand what to get while preparing to evacuate for a disaster.

Through the Pillowcase Project, children learn how to prepare for emergencies, practice what they have learned and share their knowledge with family and friends so that when an emergency does occur, everyone knows what to do.

Tina Wheeldon, RN, IU Health White Memorial is the point of contact for The American Red Cross. She recently taught The Pillowcase Project class to a group of home-schooled children. The children got to decorate their pillowcases with markers provided by Red Cross.

The children learned about fire alarms, where they should be placed in the home, how often they should be checked, escape plans and where to meet in case of a fire. They are taught how to escape out of a home fire: they have less than two minutes to escape and must have two passages of escape in their plan. Each child received a book which helps them remember about their escape plans.

This group also learned how to recognize when tornadoes can occur and the safest place to take cover.

Everyone learns how to cope with disasters, by blowing out bad air and breathing in good air in with imagining the air is colored. Good air could be green for instance and bad air maybe gray.

IU Health Arnett Participates in national age-friendly health systems’ initiative

Indiana University Health Arnett announced today that it is part of a movement to improve health care for older adults, contributing to a goal of 20 percent of U.S. hospitals and health systems becoming age-friendly by 2020.

As part of the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association of the United States, are helping hospitals and other care settings implement a set of evidence-based interventions specifically designed to improve care for older adults.

The interventions can be tested and adapted by participating in what are called Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Communities. These are collaborative entities comprised of health care teams from all over the country who are committed to sharing data and learning together. All teams strive toward reliably implementing best practices across emergency departments, intensive care units, medical-surgical units, general wards, and primary and specialty care settings.

IU Health Arnett joins more than 100 health systems working to make care for older adults even more tailored to patients’ goals and preferences and consistently of high-quality.

“IU Health Arnett has always been on the forefront of patient care, and that’s why we want to participate in this vital effort. We look forward to both sharing our best practices and learning what’s working for others,” said Hannah Davis, PharmD MS, director of Population Health at IU Health Arnett. “The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative is an important part of our overarching vision to provide every older adult with the best care possible.”

The initiative is based on a series of practices focused on addressing four essential elements of care for older patients:

  • What Matters: know and align care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences including, but not limited to, end-of-life care, and across settings of care.
  • Medication: if medication is necessary, use Age-Friendly medication that do not interfere with what matters to the older adult, mobility or mentation across settings of care.
  • Mentation: prevent, identify, treat and manage dementia, depression and delirium across settings of care.
  • Mobility: ensure that older adults move safely every day in order to maintain function and do What Matters.

The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative was launched in 2017 by The John A. Hartford Foundation and IHI with a commitment to make 20 percent of hospitals and health systems in the United States age-friendly by 2020. For more information, visit

New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 3

Rachel Ketelaar, a new nurse starting her career at IU Health Methodist Hospital, begins her first week on the floor after two weeks of training.


  • It feels so good to finally be on my floor with the nurses I will be working with! What was my first day like on A2N? Well, I thought that 12 hours would feel like forever (yes, hospital nurses work 12-hour shifts), but the hours flew by. It was go, go, go. I pretty much was following my preceptor around wherever she went, caring for her five patients. We ended up not taking lunch until 3 o’clock! When the day ended, I was a little discouraged because I honestly had to learn everything — like where to find a Band-Aid or a urinal or a new blanket. I wanted to be a help to Ty, my preceptor, and lighten her load, but instead I felt like I added work for her because I didn’t know where anything was. Ty is great, though, and very willing to show me where things are and explain what she is doing.


  • My second day working on my floor (with my preceptor). The learning curve is enormous, but I feel comfortable in charting patient assessments and with pumps. I can run an IV line through, and I am learning many of the nurses’ names and who to go to for questions. One thing I’m learning is to grab everything I need before I go in a patient’s room, because every time you enter a room you have to rewash your hands and re-glove. That’s why hand sanitizer stations are outside every room. My Day 2 assessment? There are minutes this week where I feel overwhelmed. But I am never bored. Not one minute.
A hand sanitizer station. They’re outside every patient room at Methodist. Being a nurse means having germ-free hands!


  • I’m getting into a routine. I wake up at 6, which is not too bad since I like mornings and I like to get 8 hours of sleep at night. I’m usually out the door by 6:30, at work at 6:45, and ready for huddle by 6:55. After huddle, the day is running at full-speed-ahead.
  • I absolutely love the patient population on A2N. It is a cardiovascular unit and most of the patients are easy-going, easy to talk to, and very welcoming to a new nurse like me. There was one patient in particular who I loved just chatting with, learning from him, and keeping him company. I also love the floor community. The other nurses and techs are very willing to help each other when someone is swamped or just needs an extra set of hands in a patient’s room. There’s always someone around to answer my questions or to ask for assistance.
  • Also, today my preceptor, Ty, was given the Daisy Award, given to nurses for great patient care. This is a huge deal and she didn’t know about it! I’m so proud of her and from the 2 days that I have worked with her, I can already see that this award is well-deserved!
  • When I get home after a 12-hour shift, I shower immediately, eat some dinner, pack my lunch, lay out scrubs for the next day if I’m working, and go right to sleep.

Read more:
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 1
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 2
New Nurse: Rachel’s Story – Week 3

Apply Yourself – Being a nurse at Indiana University Health means building a professional nursing career designed by you, with competitive benefits and a culture that embraces your unique strengths and supports your personal and professional goals. If you are seeking an organization where you can engage professionally, develop clinical expertise, embrace learning, foster new relationships and fuel your spirit of inquiry, apply today.

Four-year-old celebrates life with five new organs

Elizabeth Dillion was born with Hirschsprung’s disease – also known as total aganglionic bowel. Nothing she ate was properly digested. Her parents turned to IU Health and Riley Hospital for Children where she received a multivisceral transplant – five organs.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

She sits at a lunch table picking at a slice of pizza but is more interested in a bag of pretzels and a Bernstein Bears puzzle. Elizabeth Dillion’s parents Gary and Heather Dillion aren’t the least bit anxious at their daughter’s lack of interest in lunch.

It’s a new day for this strawberry blonde four-year-old.

The second child of the Dillions, Elizabeth entered the world on Feb. 11, 2015 after what her mom calls an “uneventful pregnancy.” But all that changed shortly after Elizabeth was settled into her Huntertown home, about 10 miles north of Fort Wayne. She was breastfeeding fine but was getting sick more than typical for a newborn. During exploratory surgery at her local hospital specialists discovered she had a severe form of Hirschsprung’s disease (or total aganglionic bowel). In fact, they said they’d never seen such a severe case. Elizabeth’s big brother, Luke was also diagnosed with the disease and underwent a colon resection, with few complications.

“It’s not supposed to be hereditary or genetic but in our case lightening struck twice,” said Heather Dillion.

Fewer than 200,000 cases of Hirschsprung’s disease are reported in the United States annually. The disease is characterized by missing nerve cells in the muscles in part or all of the large intestine. The main symptom in newborns is the failure to have bowel movements. They may also have a swollen belly.

Elizabeth underwent a procedure at her local hospital for placement of a G-tube and central line. She was stabilized and sent home with total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and minimal tube feeding. Soon after, her parents came to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health where they met with Dr. Charles Vanderpool who specializes in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, and transplant surgeon Dr. Richard Mangus.

“We learned that in her current condition, Elizabeth would struggle to thrive and remain dependent on the TPN for nutrition, which would be hard on her liver,” said her mother.

Her parents weighed the pros and cons and made the decision that Elizabeth would be listed for transplant. But first she needed to grow – to become stronger.

Ten months later, Elizabeth began pre-testing in preparation for a mulivisceral transplant. In January 2016 – nearly a year after her birth- she was listed for a small and large intestine, liver, stomach and pancreas.

“When it’s an intestinal issue you can do an isolated small bowel procedure, but Dr. Mangus said while the surgery is not as complicated, long term she may not do as well,” said her mother. Also with Elizabeth being TPN dependent 24 hours at day, her liver was failing.

In March of 2016, under the care of Dr. Mangus, Elizabeth received a multivisceral transplant. She was hospitalized for three weeks. By October, her family celebrated Elizabeth’s removal of the feeding tube with a trip to Arby’s.

“One of my favorite things after transplant was getting rid of all the TPN supplies. We could only give her two teaspoons of baby food or 10 CCs of formula or breast milk,” said her mom. Elizabeth has gone through feeding therapy to help develop her eating skills and she’s done well – trying new foods.

In addition to pizza and pretzels, she loves potato chips and pears dipped in ranch dressing.

During a follow up visit at IU Health her parents talked about Elizabeth’s progress since her transplant. She returns every six months for lab work and a general check up. On one visit she raced Dr. Mangus in the hallway to burn off some energy.

It made her parents smile to see their healthy little girl filled with so much life. At home she attends a developmental preschool where she recently was presented with a citizenship award. She is on track to begin Kindergarten next year. She weighs 31 pounds and stands 36 inches tall. She likes to visit the library, play at the park, and watch Harry Potter movies, work puzzles and activity books, and anything that her big brother does – especially Legos and video games.

“She will be on meds the rest of her life but otherwise, she is healthy and thriving,” said her dad. “It’s been amazing here. There aren’t many transplant programs in the country like this one. We have nothing but great things to share about IU Health – everyone – the pharmacists, the child life specialists, the dietitians, and nurses– everyone has brought Elizabeth to where she is today.”

She’s one of the most loved team members

The playful inquisitive Golden Retriever, “Avery” is one of the most loved team members at IU Health West.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J Banes,

She waddles down the hallway like a fashion model strutting on the runway. She turns three in May and already this Golden Retriever exudes the confidence of a 30-year-old. At home, Avery is playful and inquisitive but when she is on duty at IU Health West, she is meek and loving.

“I love that dog. She makes me happy and reminds me of my big German shepherd,” said patient Margaret “Maggie” Raub. With a little coaxing by Raub, Avery climbs onto her hospital bed and relaxes like she’s in no hurry to leave.

For the past year, Avery has made regular hospital visits with her owner Lesley Lautenschlager, an occupational therapist at IU Health West.

“Goldens are such great therapy dogs because they are people oriented and are a mild, gentle breed,” says Lautenschlager who has been with IU Health for 15 years and has been an occupational therapist for 31 years.

Lautenschlager first introduced “Moose” to the hospital patients in 2004. He went on to become a companion dog to a young girl with cerebral palsy. Then came “Chama” who joined Lautenschlager for 10 years.

When Chama passed in 2016, Lautenschlager vowed she wouldn’t take on another dog. The loss was too hard. But a veterinary that works with the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN) introduced her to Avery, a cousin of Chama. It was love at first site.

And it’s easy to see why.

Avery is a natural at interacting with the patients and staff. She makes everyone feel comfortable and at home. When her volunteer handler Lee McKnight enters the room, Avery nudges her and rolls over for tummy rubs.

“Patients just smile, lighten up and lose focus on themselves even momentarily,” said Lautenschlager.

Married 26 years to John Lautenschlager, a physical therapist, the couple has three children, Riley, 20, who is studying pre-veterinary science at Purdue, Jacob, a pre- med student at IU, and Dan, 23, an exercise science major at IUPUI.

It wasn’t always a Golden-haired dog that captured Lautenschlager’s attention.

In her youth, Lautenschlager was an active 4-H member who showed sheep, cattle and pigs. She had an early love of horses and began riding when she was in college.

“I think I came out of the womb loving horses,” said Lautenschlager. “My parents thought I’d grow out of it but it never happened.” Her daughter followed in her footsteps participating in 4-H and after her first year of showing dogs, Riley Lautenschlager decided she wanted to do more. She went on to become a nationally ranked junior handler – qualified for the prestigious Westminster Dog Show, and was a finalist at the Eukanuba National Championship.

“If you go to dog shows there are a lot of horse people and if you go to horse shows there are a lot of dog people,” said Lautenschlager. “The people are similar. Horse people are usually dog people.”

So she switched gears and along came her first Golden. At home, Avery hangs out with two Australian Shepherds – national show dogs.

With a canine good citizen certificate, Avery is trained to offer comfort but she also helps Lautenschlager with occupational therapy.

“I’ve used her to help patients with grooming. I had a patient who was blind and loved to brush her. It helped with hand mobility and range of motion,” said Lautenschlager. Some patients like to walk Avery. It gives them more purpose to their activity, said Lautenschlager.

And some patients like Margaret Raub just feel more at home in Avery’s presence.

“If she could stay on my bed all day, I wouldn’t mind being in the hospital so much,” said Raub.

Caregivers offer hope to victims of abuse, sexual assault

The Center of Hope at IU Health Arnett recently celebrated a year of providing personal care to patients who are victims of abuse.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

They come through the hospital doors at all hours – some covered in blood, bruised, and blurry-eyed. Their tears are a cry for help. They need a safe place and someone they can trust.

For months, Megan Shupe, a nurse with IU Health Arnett Hospital spent countless hours researching statistics and gathering support and resources to create that safe place. She met with fire fighters, prosecutors, police officers, paramedics, nurses, and doctors talking about victims of abuse. Specifically, Shupe wanted to create the West Central Region’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. With a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute last November, the Center for Hope opened its doors.

Emergency rooms – secluded from the mainstream – provide an area for victims of sexual assault and abuse to meet privately with specially trained examiners. The patients are consoled, evidence is collected, and showers are provided along with fresh clothing. There are currently two nurses available to take calls independently and an additional 11 nurses who are working to complete their forensic training

Practitioners recently joined in a candlelight service to commemorate the first year of around-the-clock care for victims. Seventy-one candles were lighted for the 71 victims treated in the past year. Fourteen were less than 18 years old. Two were physical child abuse cases and others were victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“The biggest surprise to me in the past year has been the patient responses,” said Shupe. “I have been in total amazement of the courage and strength displayed by the patients and that even during a very difficult time, they are able to express gratitude and show kindness.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report one in four women and one in nine men have been a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. One in three women and one in six men have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. One in four children have been the victim of abuse or neglect.

“Violence is a national and local healthcare concern,” said Shupe. “Patients affected by violence need specialized care for a multitude of reasons and forensic nurses have the additional training required to provide that level of care. The goal for every hospital should be to provide the services needed without requiring the patient to transfer to another hospital. Forensic Nurses are the Gold Standard of care and it is vital because our patients deserve this specialized care that is truly designed for them. “

Headquartered at IU Health Arnett Hospital the program also serves surrounding areas including IU Health White Memorial, and Frankfort hospitals.

Pancreatic cancer patient, 40, says, “Today we cry; tomorrow we fight”

They first thought he had gallstones, but further testing showed Chad Handley had pancreatic cancer. He turned to IU Health Simon Cancer Center for his care.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

He was sitting in a corner infusion pod, surrounded by his aunt and uncle, Bobbi and Eric Princell and his childhood best friend Jason Lakes from his hometown of Brookville.

Chad Handley stood up to greet some visiting Colts players shook hands and remained standing for photos. The smile never left his face.

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was connected to a pump in the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, his visitors may have second-guessed his diagnosis.

It started with chest pain in June.

“I thought it was anxiety with my busy work schedule,” said Handley, 40, who received a landscape architectural degree from Ball State University and has worked in real estate most of his life. After a week of pain, he visited his family doctor who thought he might be having gallstones. But blood work raised concerns about his liver and kidney numbers and he was rushed to an ER near his Fishers home.

An MRI followed and showed a mass on the head of his pancreas that was causing a blockage in his bile duct and enlarging his gall bladder. He was admitted to another hospital and underwent surgery to drain and alleviate the pressure from the blockage.

He met his wife Jen at Ball State and together they have two children Quinn, 11, and Darby, 9. On the same day Darby celebrated her ninth birthday Handley was in the hospital. The next day he was told he has pancreatic cancer. “My kids are my world. They fully understand and accept what their Superman is going through, and they are my biggest driver in tackling this disease,” said Handley.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – a time to make people aware of the disease and when to seek medical advice. Pancreatic cancer is often called the “silent killer” because there are so few symptoms that can serve as warning signs. Because it can be detected late, it can spread quickly. It is a disease where malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the pancreas – the gland behind the stomach and in front of the spine.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 56,770 people (29,940 men and 26,830 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. About 45,750 people (23,800 men and 21,950 women) will die of pancreatic cancer. The disease accounts for about three percent of all cancers in the United States and about seven percent of all cancer deaths.

For Handley – who was given two to five years to live – the day he was diagnosed was the day he decided he would not become a statistic.

“That day my world changed for ever. That day I told my wife, my mom and my sister I was not going to lose to this disease. I specially told my sister, ‘today we cry and it’s okay, but tomorrow we fight.’ And that’s what we’ve all done,” said Handley.

He and his wife credit their family and a strong support group of friends with helping them through that fight. It was one friend who pushed Handley to get a second opinion on treatment options. Specifically, the friend suggested he reach out to Dr. Max Schmidt with IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Handley was already scheduled for surgery at another hospital when he emailed Dr. Schmidt.

“The next day he called me on his lunch break and said he would call me that night. It was shocking to talk to him on his cell. My wife and I felt very comfortable with him,” said Handley. “Dr. Schmidt was direct in telling me my life expectancy was two to five years but he also told me I could beat it and that was all I needed to hear.”

On July 1, Handley underwent a Pancreaticoduodenectomy (commonly called a “Whipple procedure”) – surgery to remove the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct and portion of small intestine.

“On July 1 I believe my miracle happened,” said Handley. During the operation Dr. Schmidt was able to remove the tumor and all the margins.

“I remember waking up with my wife, who is my rock, my mother and my sister staring at me. Dr. Schmidt came in and assured me everything went well. He never left my side the entire recovery. It’s amazing how approachable he is. How you can text, call, whatever you need and he answers anytime and anywhere,” said Handley. After surgery he began seeing oncologist Dr. Patrick Loehrer and began chemotherapy on August 12. “Again I asked if I could win and the answer we ‘yes, 100 percent,’” said Handley.

Since June, Handley is down 40 pounds and has the following advice about men’s health:

“If you’re out of shape, get in shape. Watch the beer consumption, and get all the physicals you can. I am in the best shape of my life. I run three miles a day, three days a week, I bike with my kids, I coach, and I eat as healthy as I can. My real estate company has hit new heights. And all my relationships, from my wife, to my family, to my hometown and college friends and current neighbors and my coworkers and business partners are at an all time high and strength. That says a lot about the care I received,” said Handley. “I am going to be the 40-year-old that crushes pancreatic cancer and I owe it all to IU Health. I know I could lose, but there is not a day that I believe that to be the case.”