Every day, CHOC associates make a difference through their dedication to defend childhood, so that kids can get back to being kids. Coming full circle at CHOC, from being a former CHOC patient to a CHOC nurse, Veronica Mercado is fully committed to that vision and lives it out wholeheartedly.
She and her family have participated in CHOC Walk in the Park, a beloved, three-decade-long community fundraiser presented by the Disneyland® Resort. And now, as a licensed vocational nurse at CHOC’s Pediatric & Adult Medicine, Inc (PAM), she is a part of the Associate Giving program, an opportunity for associates to be active in CHOC’s culture of philanthropy and further advance the mission to nurture and protect the well-being of children. Philanthropic support from CHOC associates plays an instrumental part in ensuring families have access to care that they otherwise could not afford.
“I want to see these kids at CHOC grow. I want to see them succeed in life,” shares Veronica. “And I want to see them living through childhood the best they can, having fun and making sure they keep smiling. This is my time to give back.”
At age 18 months, Veronica was treated for leukemia at CHOC. Her mom, Virginia Mercado, remembers it clearly, despite the 27 years that since passed.
“She was given a 75% chance survival rate,” said Virginia.
After the diagnosis, Veronica spent two weeks at CHOC, followed by two and a half years of continual visits for check-ups and chemotherapy
“It’s an overwhelming feeling that no parent ever wants to feel,” says Virginia. “But once we got to CHOC, everyone was really helpful and understanding of what you’re going through. All the staff and doctors become your family because you just see them all the time and you give them all your concerns and they hear you out.”
Inspired by CHOC’s exceptional care
During her time as a CHOC patient, Veronica recalls the exceptional care that she received from volunteers, physicians and, especially, from her nurse practitioner, Mary English, whom she felt a special bond with.
So exceptional was Veronica’s care that she was inspired to become a nurse herself. She credits CHOC with saving her life and enabling her to be cancer-free since age four and half, and with her career choice to specialize as a pediatric nurse.
“When I would go for my check-ups and go to the clinics, I would go see the nurses and see how they would help. Their passion towards caring for children and interacting with them to make the experience more comfortable—I loved that,” says Veronica.
Now, more than two decades since first stepping foot at CHOC as a patient, Veronica’s dream of working for CHOC came true six months ago. Today, Nurse Veronica is providing compassionate and high-quality care for children in their journeys toward wellness.
“It has been a dream come true,” says Veronica. “With my story, I always say that I was given a second chance, so why not use it to help others and give back?”
“CHOC continues to make her happy,” her mom adds.
Learn more about Associate Giving at CHOC
Philanthropic support from CHOC associates helps give families access to services that they otherwise could not afford.