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Becky Sawchak, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-C, cares for patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, chronic leukemias and Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Professionally, Becky is most proud of the clinical trial she opened here at UNC. Outside of work Becky often finds herself baking French Macarons— “they’re difficult to make, but just like medicine, it’s so rewarding when things work out!”

What is your role in the Department and what patients do you serve?

I am a Nurse Practitioner within the Hematology Division.  I primarily treat patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, but also chronic leukemias and Myelodysplastic Syndrome.

Where are you from?

I was born in Salem, Massachusetts but have lived in the Triangle area since I was 8 years old.

Did you always envision yourself as an APP?

I actually never envisioned myself in medicine, but I did want to be involved in some kind of public service.  I decided to become a nurse after graduating from NC State with a degree in Parks and Recreation.  While working as a nurse, I watched the APPs doing bone marrow biopsies, lumbar punctures, and other procedures and wanted to be part of that!

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

When I am able to give patients good news about their disease.  We care so much about our patients and every step back for them is not only disappointing to them, but also disappointing to us.

How has your role evolved over time since you’ve been here?

Initially I started out seeing Multiple Myeloma patients, and when my attending wanted to open an MPN Clinic, I decided that I wanted to continue working with her to build this clinic together.

What is one thing that you wish people knew about your job?

Working in oncology is not always sad.  Sometimes we see good things!

Personally or professionally, what are you most proud of?

Professionally, I’m most proud of the clinical trial I opened here at UNC.  Since MPNs are so niche, we didn’t have many trials for them.  At an MPN meeting in 2022, I approached a sponsor about opening their interferon trial for Essential Thrombocythemia patients at UNC. It took almost a year to get it opened, but we are fully enrolled for our site and I couldn’t be more pleased.

If you didn’t have a career in medicine, what would you be doing?

This is so hard! My life has been medicine (specifically hematology oncology) for 17 years – I worked my way up from a Nursing Assistant, to a Registered Nurse, and then to a Nurse Pracititioner.  It’s hard to imagine my life without being in medicine!

What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

I love baking.  French Macarons are my specialty – they’re difficult to make, but just like medicine, it’s so rewarding when things work out!

If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably cereal!  It’s one option that I have multiple choices of – I have Celiac, so picking one good food forever is a hard choice!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I first started as an NP here, my attending Dr. Brandi Reeves always said, “Trust but verify.”  I say that all time time and it’s applicable in almost all situations.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

I would love to open my own Macaron business out of my home.

What’s the last song you listened to?

I usually listen to podcasts or books – currently I’m listening to the Office Ladies podcast, which is a rewatch podcast with Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela).