Woman uses brother's illness to inspire her career choice

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A sister's experience watching her brother's battle with cancer inspires her in a big way.

"Kids are great, in that they, even when they're sick, they bounce back really quickly. It kinda just makes me feel good to be able to help them, especially the families because I've been on that side as well," says Registered Pediatric Nurse, Katelyn Johnson.

Johnson was a regular in the hospital long before she started her nursing career three years ago. She says she spent a lot of time caring for her brother, Ben. He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer at five years old.

"We were actually in a car accident and so he had some scans done just to check for any injuries from the car accident, and that's when they found a tumor." recalls Johnson.

Eight years later, Ben passed away. Johnson believes her experience with her brother is the reason she's a nurse today.

"So we just kinda had to figure it out and work together. It was helpful for me too to take care of him. It made me feel like I was able to do something."

Coworkers say Johnson is able to bring personal experience to her work that patients desperately need.

"If you've walked in their shoes, then you have that knowledge, and you can say, ''I've been here; it gets better." "I kind of at first thought it would be too hard after being in the same area, but really I've loved it," says Nurse Manager, Paula Culvey.

Johnson and her family have now started the Ben-Inspired foundation that holds fundraisers for children with cancer, along with the Make a Wish Foundation. The Make a Wish Foundation was able to send Ben to Disney World before he passed away.