Long-Term Follow-Up

Elaine Hagan, RN

Working hard on behalf of patients

Every once in a while, someone asks Elaine Hagan, a transplant clinical nurse specialist, if working at a cancer center is sad or depressing.

Sure, it’s tough sometimes, she answers them, but it’s certainly not sad or depressing.

That’s because "everyone here is working hard to make people better. It’s a very inspiring place to work, and patients themselves always teach us the best lessons," she said.

Elaine Hagan

"The strength of our patients is amazing. They’re survivors, and their experiences put our own lives in perspective."

Hagan ought to know. She has worked at the Center for 28 of her 30-year career in the nursing profession.

She got her start at the Center after she saw an ad seeking bone marrow transplant nurses—at a time when the procedure was still in its early stages.

Today, Hagan plays dual roles at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the treatment arm of the Hutchinson Center. A couple of times a week, she is a charge nurse, coordinating care for visiting patients and organizing the workday for staff.

On two other days of the week, she sees LTFU patients. Often, these are patients who have completed their first year post-transplant and need an evaluation and necessary vaccines.

She also works closely with patients who report to SCCA with chronic graft-vs.-host disease. Treatments for GVHD have experienced remarkable improvements, she said.

"Today, there are so many options to alleviate GVHD. If one treatment doesn’t work, we can try something else. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of our patients," she said.

Hagan is a Wisconsin native. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shortly after, she and friends decided to come to the Northwest for a short adventure.

Thanks to that adventurous trek, she met a young man named Tim, and thoughts of returning to the Midwest vanished quickly. Married for 25 years, they have two sons. Bernie, 20, is a University of Washington student and cross-country and track runner. His brother, Baxter, is 17 and a high school senior and soccer player.

The love for sports runs in the family. Hagan is also a runner.

The family loves boating and snow skiing, typical Northwest sports. And when things get a little hectic, they like to escape to a small family retreat on Whidbey Island.

"It’s great to spend a lot of quality time with my family, but I’m also thankful to be a part of my patients’ lives," she said.

"The field of transplantation has changed a lot since I started working here. There are lots of new things coming down the pipe for patients, and nothing is more gratifying than giving patients a greater chance of getting through this difficult period in their lives."

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.