Sarah Jameson recently wrote in a bio that she was blessed to land her dream job right out of college as a Maternal Child Department nurse at St. Catherine Hospital, where she has worked since 2010.
Over time, the feeling became mutual as her colleagues at the hospital saw her dedication, passion and compassion — even while she battled cancer — and those attributes helped her garner a nomination for this year's Clinical Excellence in Nursing Award at the hospital.
On May 9, the mother of six lost her battle with cancer, dying just two days prior to the ceremony where she was posthumously given the Clinical Excellence in Nursing Award.
Ross Jameson, Sarah’s husband, said he and his family were aware of Sarah's nomination, but didn't know she would be receiving it until it was announced at the ceremony.
“My first reaction would have been more shocked. I wasn’t sure if she had it or not. There are so many quality nurses up there. You just can’t guarantee it for anybody,” Ross Jameson said Thursday. “… It just kind of solidifies what we (the family) already knew. She loved her job, she loved her patients and she went to work every day with a smile on her face, willing to make everyone else’s day as good as she can. We were just proud that she was selected as nurse of the year.”
Ross said his late wife’s reaction to receiving the award would have been similar.
“She would’ve been extremely proud… She never wanted to take anything from anybody else,” Ross said. “The other two ladies that were nominated, they were just as deserving as Sarah would be. If anything, she would have been humbled and proud that she gets to work with the group of people she does, that allows her to shine and allows the people around her to shine… She works her tail off, and she was doing the best she could.”
Fifty nurses throughout St. Catherine, Sienna Medical, the Women’s Clinic, and Convenient Care Clinic were nominated for the award. The other finalists were Leslie Hart, an emergency medicine nurse, and Stephanie Thummel, a medical/surgical nurse.
As the recipient of the award, Sarah will have her named embroidered on the hospital’s nursing cape, which is a long-standing St. Catherine tradition. She also received a plaque and a Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce gift certificate, which Ross accepted on her behalf.
In the bio that she prepared for the ceremony, Sarah wrote that since her cancer diagnosis two years ago, her view on nursing had changed.
“I’ve switched from caregiver to patient a few times since my journey with cancer began,” she wrote. “I feel like the transition has taught me to show my patients more compassion, integrity, kindness, love and understanding."
Sarah also wrote that she she her nurses and caretakers had shown extreme dedication to her care and well-being during her struggle with cancer.
“My family here at St. Catherine Hospital has blessed me with an outpouring of love and generosity. In the last two years, living this cycle as a nurse and patient it has taught me that every day you can touch a life or a life can touch yours,” she wrote.
Renee Hulett, director of Maternal Child Services at St. Catherine, said on Wednesday that Sarah was always smiling and had a positive, can-do attitude.
“She was a mentor to new nurses and always willing to go the extra mile for them and our patients alike,” Hulett said. “She loved welcoming babies into this world, and her compassion was evident to all those around her. She was loved by both co-workers and patients.”
Something a lot of people don’t know, Ross said, is how Sarah juggled work and her cancer treatment.
“She was actually working a night shift, and she would get done with the night shift and she would go sit in the cancer center parking lot until they opened and she’d go get chemo,” he said. “Then she would drive herself home and be off for I think it was three days, then she’d start back in again.”
Sarah had a strong support system of family, friends and co-workers, Ross said. Some of her co-workers and former co-workers would go out for lunches, go swimming together and had a group text, he said.
“As she was getting sick and couldn’t leave the house, they would come over and bring meals over and have a big lunch at our house, or we’d all get together and have a big supper somewhere,” Ross said. “As everything progressed and got worse in the last week, we had a couple of them that would spend the night and give her mom, me and her sister a chance to rest. They’d stay up with her. They may have just worked a 12-hour shift at the hospital, and then would come to the house and sit with her, get a little bit of sleep, and then get up and go right back to work the next morning… that whole little group of friends have just completely defined friendship. That’s not something you find much anymore.”
Heather Wright-Renick, director of The Breast Center at St. Catherine Hospital, chairperson of the Nursing Advocacy & Diversity Program, and friend of Sarah, said Sarah’s legacy lives on through her family, friends, colleagues and all of the lives she has touched.
“I will miss Sarah’s infectious smile, gentle spirit and positive attitude,” Wright-Renick said.
Sarah herself was born at St. Catherine. She was raised in Holcomb and graduated from Holcomb High School, then earned her associate's degree in nursing from Garden City Community College.
She had six children: Kase Jameson, Kyler Jameson and Jerin Jameson of the home; Madeline Jameson and Belle Jameson of Buhler; and Shane Olson of Ulysses.
Ross said Sarah was “extremely big” on family and loved being active and spending time with her children.
“Towards the end, it was more about making memories for the kids and doing things that when the boys do something later, they hopefully look back and think, ‘Oh, the last time we were here, Mom took us here,’” Ross said. “The last two years, it’s just been more about making memories and staying busy to keep her mind off things best she could, and just working through and powering through things.”
Sarah could be best described as strong and dedicated, Ross said.
“How many people can say that their going to chemo right after work and taking a couple days off, then going back. I mean, she loved her job,” he said. “She loved making a difference the best she could. That was just her personality. If you ever saw her without a smile, you’re one of the few. She always had a smile. Nothing but a good attitude and positive outlook no matter what was thrown at her.”
Contact Josh Harbour at firstname.lastname@example.org.