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The Inspiring Reason this Former Cancer Patient is Proud to Put Her Scrubs On Each Day

Photo credit: St. Christopher's Hospital For Children

Photo credit: St. Christopher’s Hospital For Children

Few pressing issues cross your mind as a second-grader—learning your times tables, perfecting your cursive, getting out of gym class—those are usually the standard concerns. Cancer is usually not at the top of your list.

But for Amanda Giardinelli, a doctor’s visit that she thought was just enough to get an excused note for gym class, turned out to be a prescription for something much worse: Four years of cancer treatment.

It was November 2001 when Giardinelli began to experience shooting, charley-horse-like pain in her leg. While her pediatrician initially thought her pain was attributed to juvenile arthritis, they received a second opinion at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. That second opinion is what saved her life.

“All I remember was being taken out of the room and seeing my mom (separately) crying,” says Giardinelli. “[When they told me] I knew cancer wasn’t a good thing, but I never expected all it would entail.”

Photo credit: St. Christopher's Hospital for Children

Photo credit: St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

When Giardinelli saw her mom in tears, she knew her diagnosis wouldn’t be cured with a simple cast or a few weeks of rest. She was about to undergo four years of chemotherapy treatments—four years that would forever shape who she is today.

“I remember a lot of my time of St. Christopher’s being in and out,” she says.

Throughout her treatments, the team at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children became like a second family to Giardinelli and her whole family. Her doctor, Gregory Halligan, MD, chief of oncology at St. Christopher’s and Margaret “Peg” Mulherin, RN, would forever be a part of why Giardinelli chose to become a nurse today.

“I can never thank my doctor or nurses like Peg enough,” she says, “they’re who made it possible for me to live my dream.”

Peg is a staple at St. Christopher’s. She’s been a registered nurse at the hospital for nearly 37 years, spending most of her career in the oncology department.

“I love it—I really couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” says Peg.

She met the Giardinelli family and was immediately drawn to their close-knit support for one another throughout such a difficult time.

“There’s something about some kids that just tug at your heartstrings a little bit harder,” she says.

When Giardinelli’s parents had trouble learning the ropes of at-home injections, Peg was there to help. As a close neighbor, she’d stop by and show them how to properly inject using an apple or orange for practice. As her treatments continued, so did Peg’s support. She encouraged her to attend Camp Can Do, a summer camp for children ages 8-17 with cancer. There, she would meet some of her closest, most inspiring friends.

“It was a different sense of community and it inspired me so much to go on and to become a nurse,” says Giardinelli.

Now, 11 years in remission from treatment, she’s experienced highs and lows of being a survivor. She’s watched friends lose their battle, and some continue to fight relapses over and over. But if it wasn’t for the care she received from Nurse Peg, Dr. Halligan and the rest of the team at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, she may not be here to experience any of the heartache or happiness she feels as a nurse today.

Her advice to kids that might be going through the same thing: “Just keep fighting; never let being overcome by the battle overcome your hope.”

For more information about the oncology team at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children visit them online.