Cristi Luque, a nurse with TIRR Memorial Hermann, pauses to remember her mother every year on Mother’s day.
Judy Hoover was just 62 years old when she died of colon cancer.
“She was so loving and compassionate and just really loved us,” said Luque, describing the woman who adopted her at two weeks old. “Mom was a kind, genuine, giving woman.”
Luque was a successful executive working for a cellular phone carrier when her mother first became sick. She went with her mom to every doctor’s appointment and every test—she stood by her side throughout. Luque watched closely how her mother was treated. She witnessed the way doctors, nurses, staff and others interacted with her as her health declined. Some were more compassionate and thoughtful than others, and she took note, especially of those who connected with her mom and who saw her as more than just another cancer patient.
In 2011, her mother died, just two years after her diagnosis.
After her loss, Luque re-evaluated her own life. She took stock in how she was spending her days and realized she wanted her work to feel more meaningful. After much consideration, she knew she had to make a change. Her mother’s death sparked inside her a longing to work in a field where she could make a difference in others’ lives.
“I was so inspired by all the great things that the nurses and the doctors were doing for my mom, that I wanted to be part of that and I wanted to do my part to give back,” Luque said.
Determined to let nothing stand in her way, Luque went back to school and eventually earned an Associate’s degree at Lone Star College, then a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Houston Baptist University.
“I really wanted to just be part of something good—to turn that good into great,” she said.
In June 2021, Luque began her nursing career at TIRR Memorial Hermann, working with patients who have serious spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. She feels especially drawn to this patient population, many of whom have just been through terrible accidents and traumas and feel especially fearful of what the future holds for them. She knows that she can provide her patients that same voice of calm and reassurance that helped soothe her mother during her fight with cancer. Like her mother’s nurses, Luque can now provide a hand to hold, a listening ear, and a warm heart to share in both pain and triumph.
“Every patient is a new member of my family,” Luque said. “It’s almost like a little piece of my mom lives on in my work. That’s what drives me every day.”
For Luque, nursing is a calling, and her passion for the profession is apparent. In her short time as a nurse, she has already been honored for her work and dedication to her patients with a DAISY Award, which recognizes extraordinary nurses.
“I really have a passion for loving people I guess you could say,” she said. “I try to do my best, stay humble, and give back.”
Luque added that nursing is about so much more than completing clinical tasks—that it is about the connection created between nurse and patient, about providing an encouraging word in dark times and offering help and hope. It is about showing up, the way a mother would.
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