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Former cancer patient inspired to pursue nursing degree

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Former cancer patient MacKenzie Spangler is showing gratitude to the nurses and staff in the hospital program at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital this holiday season.

Spangler had leukemia and spent more than four years in treatment between her initial diagnosis at age 8 and her relapse at age 17. She kept up with her education through the hospital school program at the hospital. The program is funded by the St. Vincent Foundation.

The children’s hospital has a full time, year-round teacher and liaison available for patients to continue their education in light of a new or recurring diagnosis.

Spangler graduated from high school on time and now attends Indiana State University to pursue a nursing degree. She told News 8 she was so inspired by her medical battles and the pediatric oncology staff who saved her life that she wants to help others too.

“She kept positive, she kept her mindset on her ultimate goals and her dreams,” hospital teacher and liaison Heather Wiselogle said of Spangler. “That’s the really neat thing, when you see kids and families in the fight of their life, but able to also help them keep some normalcy and for kids school is a very normal part of life.“

“If you are trying to stay positive and you’re being kind, people are going to reciprocate that. I think being kind is always a good thing,” Spangler said.

Spangler says she has fond memories of the nurses and staff being kind and encouraging. She recalls spending her 17th birthday inside the hospital and playing the card game UNO with Wiselogle.

Wiselogle jokingly added she will miss beating Spangler in the game.

Spangler says attending college is fun and it’s refreshing to be on her own away from home and the hospital.