Laura Vasquez, RN, CPON, a pediatric oncology nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, was selected as the winner of CURE magazine’s Exemplary Healing Award for oncology nursing. She was honored in April at the Oncology Nursing Society’s 40th Annual Congress in Orlando, Fla. More than 1,000 nurses attended the ninth annual healer ceremony and reception.
Healer and fixer
“I’m a healer. I’m a fixer,” Vasquez said in a news release. “People think it’s extraordinary, but I really just try to do for them what I would do for my own family.”
The mother of one of Vasquez’s patients thought the nurse was extraordinary. Vasquez cared for Alexa Weiner during a five-year battle with a malignant brain tumor. The mom, Denise Weiner, called Vasquez “kind,” “selfless,” “the voice of reason” and “truly an extraordinary healer.” Through chemotherapy, radiation, brain resections, a bone marrow transplant and numerous experimental treatments, Vasquez continued caring for Alexa, stopping by the house to visit Alexa when she was not in the hospital and even sitting vigil during the young girl’s last hours.
Vasquez will be featured in an upcoming issue of CURE magazine. She will also receive an all-expenses-paid spa trip for two.
“I’m thrilled to be honored, but the truth is I’m doing a job I love,” she said. “The real heroes who should be recognized are the Weiners and their amazing daughter, Alexa.”
Also recognized at the ceremony were the other two finalists for the award, Beverly Moser, RN, of Rose Quarter Compass Oncology in Portland, Ore., and Elmeria Teffeteller, MSN, APRN, AOCN, of the University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institute in Knoxville.
“Every single nominee for this award should be recognized for outstanding efforts on behalf of patients, their families and other healthcare workers,” Mike Hennessy Jr., president of Intellisphere Oncology and Healthcare Specialty Group, said in the release. “Given the complexities of evolving cancer treatments, oncology nurses have very challenging jobs, remaining well-educated, independent thinkers while at the same time providing comfort, care and advocacy for their patients.”