January 23, 2012
Darcy Alimenti is no stranger to the University of Virginia Medical Center. The University of Virginia student spent many of her teenage years visiting and caring for her mother and brother at the hospital. They were both fighting cancer.
“The pain that I've seen that cancer brings to a family... when somebody is diagnosed with cancer it's not just the patient it's the whole entire family,” the nursing student said.
Alimenti, always ready to step in and help out, stayed strong throughout the diagnosis and treatment. Her brother had leukemia and required lots of her attention. “He had a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter). So, everyday it had to be flushed and then also he had to have a sterile dressing change which we did at home a lot,” she said.
Around the same time, Alimenti was right by her mother's side as she went through chemotherapy. “She spent nights in the hospital with me," said Carol Alimenti. "She has helped bathe me, dress me and bring my medicines and take care of me."
For the younger Alimenti, taking care of her loved ones wasn't enough. There were still many people who she thought needed her help. So she signed up to be a junior volunteer at the medical center, delivering flowers to patients and working in the gift shop.
“I loved the time I was spending with the patients. I loved being able to give back to the hospital that had been working so hard to save my brother's life. It was just really rewarding,” she said.
Alimenti, now in her second year studying nursing at UVa, wants to continue giving back. “I want to be a nurse because I would like to see the day that cancer is cured. With the different situations I've been in I feel like there's something that I can share,” she explained.
Whether it's sharing a story with a patient or eventually helping with cancer treatment, folks that work closely with Alimenti say she's well on her way. They say she's already a hero for caring for her family and helping patients that she doesn't even know.
After graduating, Alimenti plans to continue her education and eventually become an oncology nurse practitioner.
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