Eva Gomez

Nov 03, 11 Eva Gomez

City you live in:
Boston, MA.

Occupation and why?
I am a pediatric nurse and I now work educating nurses in a pediatric hospital. Since I was in high school I had a passion for being at the bedside every moment. I loved interacting with mothers and babies, helping them learn everything they needed to know in order to take their baby home. There is a great joy and personal reward that comes from caring for someone and helping them during their difficult time. Now that I am a survivor of heart disease I am committed to spreading the word about heart disease to all Latinas because as Latinas we begin suffering from heart disease 10 years sooner than women of other ethnic groups. It is of the essence to start taking care of ourselves as soon as possible—for ourselves and for our familias.

A regular day consists of?
Early to rise, go to the hospital and work around many projects: some days I teach classes for the nurses in the hospital, other days I mentor high school students who want to go into health careers and nursing, I meet with multi-cultural nurses in the hospital, other days I visit parents and families in the hospital. No one day is the same!

How do you define success?
First, make a difference for others, no matter how big or small. Second, make a contribution to the world; end your day having done at least one thing to make the world a better place than it was before you got started this morning. Last, but not least important, success means knowing what you want out of life, making a plan, going for it and not stopping until you get to where you want to be.

What has been your biggest challenge?
I was one of those women who lived in denial thinking that heart disease would never affect me, and it did. I was afraid to go to the doctor—even though I am a nurse! I had to gather the courage to go to the appointments, to take care of myself. As I recovered from open heart surgery I said to myself: “I have to tell all the women out there to take care of themselves, to not do what I did and deny the warning signs. We have to listen to our bodies, take our symptoms seriously and talk to our healthcare providers about what is our risk!”

What advice would you give a Latina who wants to follow in your footsteps?
I was the only Latina in my nursing program, and at that time having culturally diverse students in nursing programs was practically unheard of. I had to rise to the challenge of not giving in to my fears and my loneliness. The Latino community is in great need of great nurses who look like them, who speak their language and understand the important aspects of their cultural identities. Now more than ever, Latinas are needed in the healthcare field because they have a deep understanding of the needs of their communities, of women like themselves, and they can make a unique connection with the person they care for.

What’s on your bucket list?
Travel, travel, travel! See the world, meet new people and live a long full life!

I am proud to be Latina because:
WOW, that’s a big question: It is my heritage, it is my life, it is who I am—from the top of my head to the end of my feet! I love my language, I love my people, I love our sazón, our joy for live and the great heritage that we carry forward. ¡Orgullosa de ser Latina todos los días de mi vida!

How do you get your Latin fix?
Every day on my way to work I put on Rubén Blades, el Gran Combo, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz on my iPod so I can march into the hospital with positive energy to get to work! On the weekends: salsa dancing—of course!

Spanglish, English, Spanish?
Whatever the situation calls for—I’m flexible!!!

What is your favorite Latin restaurant?
That is a tough question because I have an even tie and I love both places: Orinoco Kitchen in the South End (Boston) and La Casa de Pedro (Watertown).

My favorite Latina stereotype is:
We are strong, powerful and “no hay quien pueda con nosotras” (nobody can take us down!)

Best advice from mami and/or abuelita:
Be yourself; don’t try to be like anyone else.

Favorite home remedy
Sopita de pollo!!! (chicken soup)—lo cura todo!!!

Favorite Quote:
“Whatever period of life we are in is good only to the extent that we make use of it, that we live it to the hilt, that we continue to develop and understand what it has to offer us and we have to offer it.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962 from the book “You Learn By Living”

Career Highlights?:
During my career as a nurse I have been the only nurse and Latina at the table in many forums; some of them were related to community, education or government work. I was the only one that had a thorough understanding of the challenges facing Spanish-speaking patients at every level of the healthcare system. Once I realized that I had another chance at life, I wanted to volunteer for the American Heart Association and became involved with the Go Red for Women movement. 4 months after heart surgery I contacted AHA in Massachusetts to offer up my help with anything they needed. On Valentine’s Day (5 months after the surgery) I was a speaker at the offices of Neighborhood Health Plan’s celebration of Go Red day. It was my first time speaking and was incredibly special to do it on such a symbolic day. Several months later I became a national spokeswoman for Go Red. I spend time speaking to every woman I can about taking care of themselves early, to know their risk for heart disease, talk to their moms, their abuelas, their sisters and friends about the importance of living a healthy life, eating well, keeping the weight off so that they can see their children grow and live a long, healthy life.
[fun]I also volunteer at the New England Aquarium on Sunday mornings. I love, love, love, love the penguins! They are awesome, their personalities are great. I also love the giant green turtle; her name is “Myrtle”. She is the queen of the Giant Ocean Tank; a very majestic and beautiful animal. Most of all, I enjoy interacting with kids and families in a happy environment and spreading the message of saving our oceans—the lifeline of our planet![/fun]

[career]*Eva is a nurse who found out she had heart murmur when she was in her early twenties, and she didn’t let it worry her. For a while she spent her time as a caregiver for her family members rather than thinking about herself. So she simply ignored her heart murmur and did not follow up for 13 years.

*When Eva was in her thirties, reality hit. At a routine doctor’s appointment, Eva discovered that her heart murmur was actually caused by a more serious condition. Not only was a leaky valve backing up blood into her heart, Eva also had a heart aneurism. She was shocked. And yet, she was still in denial.

*Not only did she eventually accept that her life was in the hands of the doctors and nurses who surrounded her, but she also understood for the first time the fear and helplessness that her patients feel.

*Today, Eva takes time to participate and engage in her community, encouraging other women to take care of themselves and see their doctor NOW, instead of 13 years from now.[/career]

1 Comment

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