Cancer Nurse turns patient into princess

9:10 PM, May 31, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

St. Louis (KSDK)-- Even when looking through racks of dresses, you can sometimes find substance over style.

"It's like a self-esteem booster, " says Tracie Ousley.

Several racks of dresses are part of Ousley's collection. She runs the Caring' Mothers organization which collects new and gently used formal and evening dresses, which are then sold for just $25.

"People are struggling, " she says. "They're struggling and we just felt like we needed to help"

She started the project with her aunt and her friend, three years ago in her spare time.
Her full-time job is at St. Louis Children's hospital as a cancer nurse.

" I became a nurse to help people, " she explains.

Just across the hall from Tracie is the hematology/oncology department where 16 year old Nichole Konkowski is being told what to expect before her up coming surgery.

Nichole, who is from Marionville, Missouri, about three and a half hours southwest of St. Louis, has been diagnosed with a blood disorder

"When I was first diagnosed, I couldn't hardly do anything, " says Nichole. "I couldn't even open a door."

The disorder is called ITP, where the blood doesn't clot as it should. The immune system attacks the body's own blood platelets

"With a platelet count less than 20,000 you have an increased risk of bleeding into the brain or just not stopping bleeding if you have a major injury, " explains Dr. Jeff Bednarski.

"This is your baby, you don't want to see your baby unhealthy. It's a very concerning thing, " says Mary Jane Konkowski, Nichole's mom.

Nichole comes here to St. Louis Children's hospital once a month to get treatment but on a recent visit, she got something else.

When you're 16 you don't dream of going to the doctor every few weeks, you dream of going to the high school prom.

"You have to look really pretty, you have to get your hair done, " says Nichole.

But doctors are expensive and so are prom dresses. That's when a certain cancer nurse stepped in.

"It's a once in a lifetime event. You can only get this once in a lifetime and once this day is gone you can never get it back, " says Ousley.

Tracie heard about Nichole's dream and decided to do what she could to make it come true.
She brought her over to look at the collection and Nichole found her perfect dress.

"She looked amazing. She looked like a princess, " says Nichole's mom.

And a few weeks later, on their next hospital visit, the princess brought pictures to show her fairy godmother.

" I think I'm going to cry, " said Ousley through tears.

Doctors are hopeful that with surgery and some more treatment, Nichole Konkowski can look forward to her next prom.

"She should do fantastic and be able to return to a normal life, " said Dr. Bednarski.

As for Tracie Ousley, it's on to helping the next young girl, Believing that making a difference will always be in fashion.

To donate a prom dress: 314-753-7786

 

 

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