Nurse sees former cancer patient, survivor join her profession - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Nurse sees former cancer patient, survivor join her profession

Melissa Nadja hugs her former patient Zach Babal. (Source: WOIO) Melissa Nadja hugs her former patient Zach Babal. (Source: WOIO)
Melissa Nadja entertains a patient. (Source: WOIO) Melissa Nadja entertains a patient. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Melissa Najda has been a Pediatric Oncology nurse at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital for more than 25 years.

Over the years she's seen her young, brave patients face their toughest challenges, families face their darkest days, and others overcome cancer.

"We fight so hard for our kids and our families and we want them to do well and when we have to say goodbye with a family it's devastating," Najda said.

One of those cancer patients who touched Melissa's her heart was Zach Babal. The former patient was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 16. He was active in high school wrestling, football and track. A three-and-a-half-year battle with the disease.

"Good to see you. I'm so proud of you," cried Najda. "Why did you become a nurse?"

"Basically because of you. Because of you guys," explained Babal.

A tearful reunion captured. It's been five years since the then patient and nurse had seen each other. Zack now a surgical intensive care nurse, inspired by Melissa and the staff at UH.

"I don't know where I would be had I not gone through what I went through especially with these guys," said Babal.

Zach says being a nurse is a way to pay it forward. Caring for others, like his nurse did for him years ago when he was faced with cancer.

For Melissa, it's patients like Zach and others that keep her going. Knowing that some battles might not be won, but, never giving up on that fight.

Zach's been a nurse for about a year now. He says he had planned on joining the Marines before he was diagnosed. He's been cancer-free for more than six years.

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