HOUSTON (KTRK) --Samantha Loos-Polk is an oncology nurse at the Inpatient Cancer Center. But the journey getting here was an incredible one to say the least, starting nearly ten years ago.
"I was a secondary black belt, around twelve about the time. I was going into Junior Olympics," Loos-Polk told us.
A back injury prevented her from fulfilling that dream. It was around the same time that she began feeling abnormally tired, and noticed random red marks on her arms and bruises on her legs. Her dermatologist ordered blood work to be drawn. When the results came back, Samantha's mother received an alarming phone call at four in the morning.
"Samantha's platelets are at 6000. She needs to go the hospital immediately or else she could bleed internally," Loos-Polk said.
Her mother rushed her to the hospital for more tests and eventually received the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.
"You have cancer," Loos-Polk said.
Specifically, it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Shortly after, Samantha was also diagnosed with an uncommon type of fungal infection known as Fusarium, and it was spreading.
"So I didn't really have symptoms, I developed complications from the fungus," she explained. "When you treat cancer, the fungus gets worse. When you treat fungus, the cancer gets worse."
She stayed at Texas Children's for nine months before going home to continue her fight against leukemia.
"My cancer treatments and fungal treatment was about two and a half years long," Loos-Polk explained.
In her senior year of high school, she was finally cancer free, which eventually paved the way for her career.
"Even the nurses I had back then are still here. And they really inspired me to become a nurse," she said. "Not just a nurse, but a pediatric oncology nurse."
Shew says her journey allows her to connect with patients here on a different level.
"When I tell them I'm a survivor, you just see them glow like oh my gosh, she knows what I'm going through. She understands and I love to make that difference every day," she added.