Now more than ever, Independence Blue Cross recognizes the invaluable role that nurses play in caring for our families and communities. To show our appreciation, we are honoring outstanding nurses in our region through the second annual Celebrate Caring campaign. As part of the campaign, we’re highlighting how our winners and honorees are making a difference in the community through compassion and superior care.
In her 20 years as an oncology nurse, Laetitia Simeral has never forgotten a patient. “The names become harder to remember as time goes by, but I never forget their stories,” she said.
Every person deals with a cancer diagnosis differently and her nursing specialty is unlike most others.
“Sadly, many of my patients don’t get better,” said Laetitia, who cares for patients at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital with sarcomas, rare cancers that often go undiagnosed until they have spread to other areas in the body and are largely incurable. “My job is about prolonging life, while preserving quality of life. It’s a privilege to be part of that journey and a very rewarding profession.”
Health Care Hero
Her compassion and passion for her job is what led to her Celebrate Caring nomination by Jonathan Eells, the spouse of one of her patients, whose prognosis was “grim and devastating,” he said. “Nurses were our heroes, and one standout was Laetitia. She steered us through pain management, nutrition, mitigation of treatment side effects, and palliative care. She helped us face the reality of our situation at every step, even though it must have been incredibly painful for her.”
Giving Her All
Dealing with the emotional stress of her job is challenging, but it’s something all nurses learn to manage during their careers.
“You do internalize it,” Laetitia admitted. “However, I know that I have done the best I can do to help patients live the best life they can for as long as they can. Giving people a good, peaceful death is the reward that every oncology nurse takes home.”
“I wish no one ever had to go through what my husband did,” added Jonathan. “However, if they must, they should have a hero like Laetitia on their side.”