A balancing act

A nurse on the front lines of the pandemic weighs the responsibility to patients sick with COVID-19 against those to her children.



May 7, 2020 - 11:08 AM

Sharon Sullivan, a nurse at Community First Medical Center in Chicago, on her front porch before leaving for a 12-hour shift on May 1, 2020. Photo by Jos M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Sharon Sullivan went into nursing for the stability.

She was working full-time as a hairdresser and making good money. She completed cosmetology classes during high school and styled hair through her 20s and 30s. It was flexible and social and she had a loyal base of clients.

But shortly after her son, Ayden, was born, life got complicated. She and her husband got divorced. Her daughter, Katie, was not quite 3. Her parents both got sick — her dad had lung cancer; her mom had a heart attack — within a few months of each other. Her dad passed away in October 2008 and her mom died the following May.

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