Winston-Salem nurse encourages others to follow their passion

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WINSTON SALEM, N.C. -- Along the halls in patient rooms at Forsyth Medical Center are people suffering from cancer. When Nurse Sarah Crowell tells them she understands what they're going through, she means it.

"Doctors at first thought I had the flu, but then I was diagnosed with leukemia at age 13. My chance of survival was 20 percent," says Crowell.

Because of her experience with cancer, she grew up wanting to be a nurse, but was scared of being back in that hospital environment. And after many years of working in human resources, she was also fearful of starting over in a brand new field.

"Going back to school at 30, I was thinking I would be the oldest person in my class and I was starting from scratch, starting all over," Crowell said. "But it was in my heart, it was my calling and I knew I had to do it. So I was married, worked full time and went to school full time to get my nursing degree."

"To be able to come back into that environment that you struggled through and give back to other patients, that is really amazing," said Nurse Meredith Smith. "She just has this light. She connects to the patients in a way that the rest of us can't. She's been there, done that."

Crowell was diagnosed with cancer again two years ago; this time, breast cancer. She says after the initial shock, what got her through that was knowing that that experience would help her relate to her cancer patients even more.

Crowell says despite 12-hour days and an often exhausting work life, she wouldn't have it any other way. "Being able to make a difference for someone else, there's no other feeling in the world like that."

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