Maribel Paz, R.N., is a seasoned nurse known for her expertise and dedication to patients. Paz does what she does in honor of a family member she lost to cancer.
For Maribel Paz, R.N., nursing is a family affair.
All but one of Paz’s six brothers and sisters went into the nursing field. She followed her eldest sister, Lita, to work at City of Hope, and her husband, Ed, serves as a City of Hope clinical nurse, too.
The medical center holds an even deeper family connection, though, one that stretches beyond her occupation.
Only two years into Paz’s career at City of Hope, another older sister, Josie, journeyed there — as a patient. Fighting ovarian cancer that spread to her lungs, Paz’s sister lost her battle with the disease. It was a devastating loss to a 33-year-old whose mission was to help others heal.
“I didn’t know if I could stay at City of Hope much longer after my sister died, because every time I saw a patient who was suffering, I would associate those emotions with my own and what my family went through,” said Paz.
Ultimately, Paz turned that tragedy into the inspiration that still fuels a now 30-year career at City of Hope.
“I’ve learned to empathize rather than sympathize with my patients and their families in order to give the very best that I can as an advocate and caregiver,” said Paz. “Many times we care for patients through difficult and trying times. It is our honor to not only provide the very best in treatment but also give them a deep foundation of hope.
“City of Hope will be my first and last job. For me, this is a second home,” she said.
Paz still sees her sister in all of her patients and draws on that feeling at every turn to alleviate patients’ discomfort and help them get better. She cares for patients after surgery, a critical time for recovery.
“I get attached to my patients. They don’t have the power to do so many things in their lives, and that’s why we’re here. Sometimes, I cry even before my patients cry,” she said.
According to her co-workers, Paz’s combination of empathy and experience make her a crucial member of City of Hope’s postsurgical care team. They praise her extensive knowledge and how in tune she is with her patients’ well-being. She holds so much health expertise, physicians said, that they count on her to watch over patients and ensure patients’ incisions and skin grafts or flaps are healing correctly in the hours after an operation. Her teammates trust her intuition and observations, knowing she always wants each patient to feel better as soon as possible.
Paz believes deeply that staying positive, in the here and now, helps speed patients’ recovery. She encourages them with a twist on some age-old words of wisdom.
“To learn from yesterday, live today to the fullest,” she has been known to tell them. “At City of Hope, there is always hope.”
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