Every time Sarah Pink came to the NC Cancer Hospital, she had to plan an extra 20 minutes to get from the front door to her appointment because so many of the nurses, doctors and staff wanted to chat or give her a hug.
Their compassion and support helped Sarah, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 26, fight through three years of treatment, four inpatient stays and a hip replacement. “It was easy to maintain a positive outlook because the staff cared so much,” Sarah said.
Furthermore, it inspired Sarah’s parents, George Pink and Peggy Leatt, to make a donation in honor of two members of the UNC Lineberger team—Peter Voorhees, M.D., and John Strader, PA.
“Our gift is but a small token of our appreciation to UNC Lineberger and to Dr. Voorhees and John Strader, in particular,” said George. “These two remarkable individuals saved the life of our daughter, and we will always be grateful.”
As UNC faculty, both George and Peggy have worked in and around the health care system for many years. Nevertheless, they were continually surprised and impressed by Dr. Voorhees’ ability to manage the complexities of Sarah's clinical care with empathy, responsiveness and understanding.
“Beyond his clinical expertise, Dr. Voorhees is one of the best listeners we have encountered,” said George. “Despite being one of the busiest physicians we know, we have never felt rushed and he has always been exceptionally patient in explaining drugs and treatments.”
John Strader earned a spot as one of Sarah’s favorite people in the world—quite a feat considering he was responsible for performing a number of painful and unpleasant treatment procedures. “The number of times that John went way beyond the call of duty are too numerous to mention, particularly at times when Sarah was so very ill,” said Peggy.
Sarah’s final day of chemotherapy was a joyful occasion, with staff singing “Don’t You Come Back No More” and “She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” For George, Peggy and Sarah, it was also a day of gratitude. “We told Dr. Voorhees: ‘We didn’t want to go on this journey. But, given that we had to, we are glad we went on it with you.’”