Thrive by IU Health

May 14, 2024

Personal experience drew radiation therapists to career

IU Health University Hospital

Personal experience drew radiation therapists to career

They experienced the effects of cancer firsthand and wanted to help others.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

Seven years ago Drew Hedges witness his stepfather go through a diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer. Similarly, Jill Ricketts’ father was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

“I was a second-degree seeker when my stepfather was diagnosed,” said Hedges. After graduating from IU Bloomington with a degree in speech pathology, he enrolled in the IU School of Medicine Health Professions Program. He joined IU Health four years ago.

A native of Evansville, Hedges’ mother also worked in healthcare and his sister is an occupational therapist.

Working as a radiation therapist requires a lot of personal care with patients as they work to position them so they can receive radiation.

“We see patients about 20 minutes, so it’s rewarding to spend time with them and we see the same patients every day since we are working with them on a radiation prescription that is spread out over four or five weeks,” said Hedges.

Ricketts has been a radiation therapist for 27 years and has been with IU Health for about two years.

“When my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer, I became interested in working in patient care. I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist but took classes in radiation oncology and changed my major,” said Ricketts.

The therapists see both pediatric and adult patients, working in the basement of IU Health University Hospital.

“There’s a lot of patient contact. We walk them back to the area. They have CT scans and then we create positioning devices that we reproduce for every treatment,” said Ricketts. “You’re simulating a position and the doctors plan the scanning.”

Ricketts said the best part of her job is knowing that she is making an impact on the patients’ lives and hopefully curing them or making their symptoms less.

Outside of work, Ricketts has been married for 24 years. She is the mother of a son who is graduating from Franklin College and a daughter who is a high school senior.

Hedges has been married for two years to an occupational therapist. He performs with the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus and sings with his church praise team.