A Mysterious Illness Leads to Student’s First Publication
Nursing Student Anna Crawford ’22 coauthored an article with faculty member, Professor of Nursing Lisa Ruth-Sahd ’83, on sarcoidosis for the journal Nursing.
York College Nursing major Anna Crawford ’22 woke up on January 31, 2020, with severe chest pain. She assumed it was just her asthma acting up, though deep down she felt that something wasn’t right.
Anna struggled to make it through the day. Every time she inhaled, the pain grew worse. Even walking became difficult. She had an exam that day, so she pushed through. But while walking back to her dorm, she struggled to catch her breath. The pain was excruciating.
By dinnertime, Anna was feeling faint. She decided she needed to go to the emergency room.
The doctors performed several lab tests and took X-rays before telling her they needed a CT scan of her chest.
Shortly after the scan, a doctor walked into Anna’s room with a box of tissues and told Anna that she had masses all over her lungs. She believed Anna had metastatic lung cancer. Anna called her mom in tears, and they decided to seek a second opinion at a hospital closer to home.
A New Diagnosis
Anna found a pulmonologist near her hometown who performed an array of new tests and scans.
“There were so many tests,” Anna says, “but he was on the ball. He got me into appointments that would normally take months.”
The masses on her lungs were growing fast. On March 6, 2020, a thoracic surgeon took three masses out of Anna’s left lung. A biopsy confirmed they were not cancerous. Anna learned that she had a rare disease called necrotizing sarcoid granulomatosis.
According to an article that Anna and Professor of Nursing, Lisa Ruth-Sahd ’83, D.Ed., coauthored for a peer-reviewed Nursing journal, “Sarcoidosis is a multisystem inflammatory disease that leads to the formation of abnormal masses or nodules called granulomas in various organs.”
As Anna learned more about her diagnosis and experimented with various treatments, she went through the process like a true nurse, analyzing all the data. She mentioned her condition to Professor Ruth-Sahd, who asked if she would like to write about her experience. In January 2021, the pair began researching, writing, and analyzing Anna’s CT scans, X-rays, and lab results. Their resulting article was selected for publication in the journal Nursing in December 2021.
“Anna was my student and was missing some clinical experiences due to suffering from sarcoidosis,” says Professor Ruth-Sahd. “Trying to achieve individualized, yet rigorous education, she and I crafted this assignment where she would share her case study.”
Though going through diagnosis and treatment proved grueling for Anna, writing about it was an extremely satisfying process.
“It’s rewarding knowing that I am making an impact on the way future patients may be cared for by nurses,” Anna says. “It has made me realize how important it is to teach others about disease experiences.”
Professor Ruth-Sahd was also pleased with the progress they were able to make. “Very few undergraduate students, or even graduate students, are fortunate enough to publish while in school,” she says. “So, for an undergraduate student I am very proud of Anna. We worked collaboratively throughout the entire publication process and because Anna was very willing to make writing revisions, I was also able to mentor her through the many steps of the online publishing. Hopefully, Anna will now want to publish future nursing articles.”
Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, as well as a difficult bout with COVID-19, Anna continued to attend the Dr. Donald E. and Lois J. Myers School of Nursing and Health Professions full-time. She looks forward to graduating this year. She hopes to work in a hospital intensive care unit or in a cardiothoracic specialty.
“I’ve always loved taking care of people,” Anna says.