When the caregiver becomes the patient


SARASOTA- Kathy Mitchell’s energetic walk down the halls of Doctor’s Hospital is a familiar sight to her coworker’s.

“Her tenacity and her compassion,” Martina Giquinto said. “For her staff, her nurses, her community and her patients, is just unsurpassed.”

As Chief Nursing Officer, she needs the energy for her busy day.

“I have almost 300 nurses that report directly to me,” Mitchell said. “I have 9 directors, over different departments, I have the pharmacy, the Emergency Room, the OR and then all the nursing units.”

But just about 2 weeks before Christmas last year, Mitchell went from being the nurse to the patient.

“I just happened to be showering,” Mitchell said. “And ran my soapy hand over my left breast, and I could tell there was a lump there.”

Diagnosed with breast cancer, Mitchell underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Completing treatments just three weeks ago.

Through all of that, Kathy remained at work. Caring for others.

“She never stopped,” Giquinto said. “She came to work, she stayed with us the whole time and she never stopped.”

“I can’t say I never missed a day,” Mitchell said. “But I can tell you through almost 7 months I never worked less than 3 days a week and usually 4 days a week, and I had chemo on the 5th day of the week, so…”

Transition to Nat of her walking, “This is what’s different, When I was sick,” Mitchell said. “I was so weak, that a walk down the hall I mean I would get breathless just going from my office to administration.”

Her coworkers just saw her resilience.

“During the hurricane she was here,” Giquinto said. “She was here all the time, she was up while we were sleeping, and during that time while battling cancer like she was, when it was stressful and everything she was one of our biggest inspirations.”

And caring for others, gave Kathy the strength to keep fighting.

“Work is not only a passion for me,” Mitchell said. “But at a time where I was feeling so sick and vulnerable, it was a distraction to what I was going through, and I think that in many ways gave me the strength to get through what I was going through.”

Her walk is getting back to its pace, now the stops come from coworkers happy to see her back on her feet.

And Kathy is grateful for all the support she received.


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