“I’ve learned a lot about our humanity, our perseverance, our ability to be courageous every day.”
Elizabeth Ramírez, RN
Elizabeth always wanted to be a famous novelist. Luckily for her patients at Moffitt Cancer Center, college led her in another direction. Dissatisfied with the journalism program she had enrolled in at NYU, she was unhappy for weeks. She soon switched to the school’s nursing program. She loved it. And as a 15-year RN at Moffitt, she’s been writing the book on courage and compassion ever since.
“I enjoy helping people understand their health better, helping them cope, helping them understand that this is a time period of recovery and healing,” Elizabeth says. She sees courage every single day in her cancer patients, as well as in the friends and family members who visit them. “Knowing that you may have to have chemo and radiation and you’re not sure of the outcome and you have surgery anyway, that’s courage.” She stresses the amazing things she’s learned from her patients. “My experiences with them have allowed me to pay it forward and teach others who are going though what I saw my previous patients go through.”
Elizabeth takes Moffitt’s individualized patient approach very seriously. As she explains, “We know that everyone’s different, we know that you’re a person and you deserve to be cared for in every respect, and that your family and your friends also deserve to be cared for.” Taking a holistic, team approach, she says Moffitt nurses often pull in other hospital members to stay attuned to their patients’ needs, “whether it be through massage, music, yoga or artistry,” she adds.
At times, fifteen years of seeing every type of cancer patient has tested her own courage. She believes it’s important for Moffitt nurses to interact with their patients and become vulnerable themselves. “That, to me, has been the ultimate test of my courage,” Elizabeth says. “I realized it was therapeutic for me as well as for my patients, and I became comfortable with the process of helping someone through this time, because I realized that sometimes I’m the only rope that they have to hold onto. And I’m okay with that.”
“We’re not promised what tomorrow will bring, but we can offer you hope and the courage when you feel you don’t have it.”
“The biggest thing I notice about Moffitt is that they give us the tools to be the best we can be. I can always provide for my patients, whatever their needs might be – spiritual, medicinal, anything of that nature. The patient always comes first.”