VIDEO: This 10-year-old gave back to the St. Mary nurses who got her through the worst of times


Ten-years-old seems a little soon to understand what bittersweet means but, upon arriving at St. Mary Medical Center, Saturday, Nellie de la Cruz said she knew the feeling, having returned to the place she spent some of the worst days with some of the best people.

From pretty much birth until she was six, Nellie spent many days and nights receiving treatment for a serious kidney condition at St. Mary. Those days weren’t always good and, truth be told, Nellie wasn’t always in the best of moods. But she and the nursing staff got her through it, which is why she and her close friend—they call themselves twins—Arlene Ramirez returned Saturday to hand care packages to the St Mary nursing staff, many of whom were the very nurses that knew her as a baby.

Nellie and Arlene have taken upon themselves to give back wherever they can. They have fundraised and provided all kinds of goodies, from pizza to bracelets, to first responders and medical professionals. It’s what they do, having received some valuable help and physical space to make their bracelets by the staff at Nieto Herrera Elementary.

But, though they’ve given out plenty of stuff to plenty of people, Saturday’s trip was special, given Nellie’s history at the hospital. When she and Arlene pulled up in a SUV, the small gathering of nurses ooohed and awed at the sight of their little patient all grown up. There were elbow bumps and a few impromptu speeches—Arlene said she hoped the packages showed that, even in these extraordinary times, the nurses do “not fight alone. We’re fighting with them”—as well as some catching up to do.

It was the kind of day that left everyone with a smile on their face. Well, we assume. Everyone was wearing a facemask.

Check out Nellie’s and Arlene’s cancer fighters Gofundme page here.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.