KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Casey Ramey first stepped into the East Tennessee Children's Hospital, it was the middle of the night. She was 12 years old and battling thymoma, a type of cancer between her lungs and heart. 

She remembers the many nurses trying to make her laugh and smile as she went through six months of chemotherapy. 

"That's what I liked most about all the nurses is that they made everything light-hearted and fun," Ramey recalled. "I don't really remember all the bad stuff." 

Now, she's almost sixteen years cancer-free and a nurse alongside some of the same people who treated her. 

"After that, I guess I just decided that's what I was going to do," she said. "I was just lucky that I got to work on the same floor that I was a patient."

Her current boss, assistant nurse manager Justin Abbott, was one of her favorite nurses as a patient. 

Casey Ramey and Justin Abbot
When Casey Ramey was battling cancer at age 12, Justin Abbott was one of her favorite nurses.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital

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"It's kind of like when you realize that group or song that you loved back in high school is considered a classic now," Abbot said. "You realize that you've been around for a while when the person you took care of is now a nurse." 

Ramey vividly remembers a night when she was sick and came into the hospital throwing up.

"Justin came down and tried to get me to take some medicine by mouth and I told him 'No, I'm going to puke,'" Ramey said. "He said, 'Let's just try it' and then I puked on him."

Today, their relationship is different, but still strong. 

"He's still the same great guy, same great nurse," Ramey said. "I just have to respond to his emails every now and then."

She normally doesn't tell her patients about her own battle with cancer, but some of them see her picture hanging on the wall or find out from other nurses. 

Casey and Jeremy
Assistant Nurse Manager Justin Abbott and nurse Casey Ramey at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital

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"It's nice to be able to just give them someone who's gone through it as well," Ramey said. "Being able to have the nurses that I had, I strive to be as good as they were at least or try to make the experience as fun in my heart as they did."

While it doesn't take someone who has beat cancer to help others fight it, her unique perspective can make it easier. 

"It's really rewarding to see somebody beat those odds and it's awesome," Abbott said. "What better thing to do than you've experienced it and then come live on the opposite end and give back."