When A Nurse Becomes A Patient

October 24, 2017

She’s been spotted at work with her IV pole pumping fluids into her system. Lori Harman doesn’t see it as anything out of the ordinary. She’s an oncology nurse. She knows what it takes to travel the road – day in and day out – of cancer care.

She got the diagnosis August 22 – just shy of her first year at IU Health. Before that she worked for a home health company and another hospital. She came to IU Health to work in oncology.

“When I got the diagnosis, it was surreal. I couldn’t believe I’m working in oncology with oncology patients, and I’m going to be a patient myself,” said Harman who has been married to Gabe Harman, an IU Health Academic Health Center Police Officer, for 11 years. They have one son Gabriel.

Harman discovered the lump in her right breast through a self examine. Her doctor Carla Fisher, medical director of breast surgical oncology and associate professor of surgery, ordered a biopsy that revealed two spots on Harman’s right breast and a spot in her left lymph node. She began chemotherapy on September 11.

Her co-workers were among the first to learn of Harman’s diagnosis. They didn’t hesitate to go above and beyond to show support, said Harman.

It didn’t take long for that support to extend to other areas of the hospital. Co-worker Stephanie Alvizures Gonzalez organized a silent auction for the Harman.

“We all know this is a game changer in anyone’s life,” Gonzalez wrote to co-workers. “Lori and her husband are both team members of IU Health and they have a son who is in elementary school. She is such an asset to our work family, and we would like to do whatever we can to help her family out through this tough time in their lives.”

IU team members supported the cause with monetary donations and auction baskets and gifts including – a “tree” with 20 gift cards; an Italian dinner basket; five dozen farm fresh eggs; and a truck filled with seasonal fire wood.

“This just hits close to home,” said Gonzalez. “Lori is so supportive of all of us nurses. I don’t know how she can become any better at what she does, but I can see her using this to empathize with others,” said nurse Sherri Alezki. “Lori is such an inspiration to all of us. She can honestly look at a patient and say, ‘I know what you’re going through,’” added nurse Whitney Grider.

-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

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