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Michelle Lasota: Jefferson Oncology nurse runs for her superheroes

For most people who work in healthcare, the goal is the same: do everything possible to heal the sick, mend the wounded, and get people better. For Michelle Lasota, this was not always the case. Michelle is a registered nurse who now works with and treats cancer patients at Jefferson’s Department of Oncology, but for over a decade she had a different specialty. Driven by the sudden passing of her father, Michelle began working as a hospice nurse and caring for those who would not get better. She learned that medicines and procedures aren't the only tools which can heal people and that patients are more than blood tests, imaging, and assessments. Her experience and expertise in providing light during the darkest hours for patients and families has proven invaluable to her new career in oncology.

During her time working in hospice, Michelle developed a passion for treating the whole patient, not just the disease afflicting him or her. Her positivity has inspired many, including renowned film-maker Sean Cunningham who produced a documentary about Michelle called The Nurse with the Purple Hair. She now brings this holistic approach to healing to those fighting against cancer at Jefferson.

Michelle knows more than anyone the stresses, hardships, and emotions a cancer diagnosis can place on someone, as well as their loved ones. Yet, where many would be too uncomfortable or not quite know what to do or say, Michelle accepts the challenge of being there for her patients when they need her the most. “I like to be the one to calm the storm,” states Michelle. “People aren’t supposed to know what to expect. There’s help out there...that’s what they need to know.”

Grateful for the support Legacy of Hope offers cancer patients in Philadelphia, Michelle and her colleagues are well aware of the challenges that accompany a diagnosis. “Insurance doesn’t pay to keep up with a household and take care of a family,” Michelle points out. “Financial toxicity is a huge piece that people don’t generally think about.”