Inspirational Stories of Exceptional Care

Karella Hawthorne, RN BSN

Karella Hawthorne, RN BSN, works at our White Plains Hospital Center for Cancer Care. When asked why she became a nurse seven years ago, she says, “Nursing has always been, and will continue to be, the most indispensable role one can have. The past few months has validated that in every way. The memories I have with my patients are unforgettable. We laugh, talk, and even cry together when necessary. I absolutely love my patients and love taking care of them; they give me a high sense of value as a nurse, and as a human being.”

Michelle Capparelli, RN-BC, MSN

After losing her mother to cancer at just eight years old, Michelle Capparelli, RN-BC, MSN knew she wanted to become a nurse when she grew up to help others the way the nurses had helper her mom. Michelle started out on 5I for three years, before moving to the White Plains Hospital Center for Cancer Care, where she now specializes in Oncology. When asked if she had any unforgettable moments in her nursing career, she says, “I was taking care of a cancer patient who reminded me tremendously of my mom. She was battling the same cancer at almost the same age. I thought it would be too much for me to handle. Instead, I mustered up the strength and took care of her as if she was my own mother. I held her hand through the pain and fought to get her the right pain management plan.”

Maria Alvino, BSN, RN

Maria Alvino, BSN, RN is a nurse at our Lowenthal Infusion Center. She decided she wanted to become a nurse when her grandmother got sick and she realized how vulnerable people become when they are ill. Over the past few months, Maria says, “I’ve learned how brave oncology patients are. They are some of the most vulnerable patients affected by this pandemic. Despite that, these patients show up day in and day out and put up such a courageous fight. It is truly a gift to be a part of their journey and to be inspired by them every single day. I am honored to take care of them.”

Lou Vaccaro

Lou Vaccaro, a member of the Answer to Cancer committee, has been a patient at our Center for Cancer Care. Having just retired in March of 2016, Lou had been feeling under the weather when he was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer in the upper-left lobe of his lungs and lymph nodes. Since then Lou has been diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent brain surgery at White Plains Hospital to remove the tumors. Radiation therapy was prescribed as a follow-up to the surgery, and although he was petrified, Lou found reassurance when he met with Dr. Jeffrey Vainshtein, medical director of the Center for Radiosurgery at the Hospital. “Dr. Vainshtein made sure I knew exactly what was going to happen during radiation,” he shares. “He showed me the radiation machines, informed me of how they worked, and explained what they would do in order to save my life.” Lou knows he can count on the Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care to keep him healthy. “We’re so blessed to have this wonderful facility. The doctors, nurses, and technicians here do their job in the most professional and loving way. White Plains Hospital is the best of them all.”