An Extraordinary Healer essay honoring JUDITH LEGASPI, B.S.N., RN, OCN [JFK MEDICAL CENTER, EDISON, NEW JERSEY]
Judith Legaspi, B.S.N., RN, OCN, and Ellijah Legaspi - PHOTOS BY ELISE CAMPBELL PHOTOGRAPHY
MY MOM HAS BEEN an oncology nurse for more than 10 years. She has cared for, and provided excellent care to, many people. I hear stories from her co-workers and former patients about how amazing she is at her job, and I always tell them “I know.” I am so proud to have her as a mom, and anyone would be lucky to have her as a nurse. She has since become an assistant nurse manager, and she doesn’t hesitate to help her nurses whenever they need her. When it comes to administering chemotherapy or even giving a patient and their family comfort, she is there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. She is an extremely hard and diligent worker, and for that I couldn’t be more proud.
As I’ve grown up, my mom has sacrificed so much to provide food and shelter for our family. She has worked long hours, and, despite not being able to see her as much as I want to, I know she’s out there saving lives. Whenever she is off, she always gets texts or phone calls from her coworkers asking about how certain things are done or what they should do in certain situations. I’ve learned a lot from watching her.
My mom started her oncology journey back when she was in the Philippines. With my dad’s encouragement, she went to nursing school there and found her passion. As soon as she graduated, she became pregnant with me and had to push back her career as a nurse. My dad had gone overseas to work to provide for us, and my mom did her best to take care of me as a single mom. When my dad was able to get both of us to the United States, she got a job as a patient care technician. From there, she studied a lot of material and got her oncology certification, thus beginning her career in oncology.
When we came to New Jersey, she found a job at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison on the oncology unit. She had the evening shift, so she left before we went to bed and came back as soon as we left for school. Despite having all of those hours, she had enough energy to spend some quality time with me and my family. I would always ask her, “Mom, what made you decide to go into the medical field?” She would look at me with a tired smile, but her eyes were filled with passion. “Because it’s what I love to do. Caring for people and doing everything in my power to make them feel better is what I’m supposed to do. You know, nursing isn’t just a job, it’s a calling.” As a child I didn’t understand what she meant by that, but as time went by I understood exactly what those words mean.
After struggling to find out what to do with my life, my mom told me that her boss opened up a job as a secretary on the floor, and asked her if I wanted it. I gladly took the offer. It has been more than a year since that happened, and I can honestly say that working on the oncology unit has opened my eyes to the world of nursing. I have experienced so many things while working on that floor, and I thank her and Lori every day for giving me this opportunity. I’ve learned many things, and I’ve seen my mom’s work firsthand. All of the stories I’ve heard, and all of the compliments she gets, are the truth. She goes above and beyond to make sure the nurses are performing their best, and that the patients and their loved ones are comfortable with the care they receive. My mom has motivated me to start my own journey down the road to nursing. I hope that one day I’ll be able to become an amazing nurse, just like she is.
So as I write this essay and think about who to nominate for the award, the answer is simple. I know that as her daughter it may seem a little biased, but as her employee I know that it’s impossible for me to not nominate her. She is an amazing nurse, a compassionate woman and an even better mother. I wouldn’t change that for the world.