It’s easy to understand why Veronica Alvarez was chosen as our December 2019 Employee of the Month: she’s a hard-working, encouraging presence in her office and is immediately likable. Her team knows they can depend on her and so do her patients.
Veronica joined the Dental Depot family in September 2013 and she’s grown through a number of positions in the front office. Currently she works as the patient care coordinator with Dr. Joseph Sebourn at our Central OKC office. Her interest in dentistry is what spurred her to join Dental Depot, but it’s the relationships she’s formed with her coworkers that made Veronica realize this is the place she wanted to be.
In 2014 Veronica, then in her mid-20s, had gone into a regular doctor’s appointment and come out the other side with news that would set her whole life on a different course. Nevertheless, throughout her hardships, three things have kept her going: her faith, her family and her friends. Continued below, Veronica tells her story in her own words. We invite you to join us in celebrating this amazing woman and her story.
DD: What has been your most impactful story of being here at Dental Depot?
VA: Here at 23rd we’re like family. Everybody knows everyone. Back in 2014/2015, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was hard. I had gone for my yearly check-up and out of nowhere, it just popped up. I had surgeries after surgeries and despite that, in 2015 I found out that it came back. My body just wasn’t fighting it.
They told me that if [the cancer] was still there after the surgery, they would have to do a hysterectomy. At that time, I thought ‘No, I’m too young. I don’t even have kids yet,’ because in 2015 I was only 25. When they asked if I wanted to have kids, I told them I did want them in the future and their response was that I should consider it now so that they could monitor me. They told me I’d automatically have to have a C-section [because my body wasn’t strong enough].
My husband and I started trying that January and we found out we were finally pregnant in June. My coworkers treat me like family here. Every problem that I had the whole team prayed over me. The pregnancy was hard and risky. Everybody would ask about my doctors’ appointments and Brian [Ward], who was the manager then, would make sure I wasn’t on step stools or lifting things. Everyone protected me and made sure I was okay. When I was five months pregnant, they told me I was at risk of a miscarriage and that they needed to do another surgery to sew my cervix because my baby was dropping low.
So, we went to church and I told the girls here. Everybody prayed every day until it was just a week before that surgery. When I went in for my pre-op appointment, they told me that, somehow, I didn’t have that risk of miscarriage anymore. They ran some more tests just to be sure, we even booked the surgery date and I had it planned for the following week. I went to church that Sunday and they called me Monday morning and said that we were in the safe zone and I could deliver my baby naturally.
DD: Were you able to deliver your baby safely?
VA: Yes. I didn’t want any pain medicine. I wanted to do it all naturally and feel everything and I did it. She was eight pounds and eight ounces. I went in around 3:00pm and had her around 2:00am, so it was about 11 hours of labor. It was actually Super Bowl Sunday and she wasn’t supposed to come for another two weeks. Yareli is three, and she’ll be four in February.
DD: What was it like for you and your husband to be told that if you wanted to have a baby, you needed to do it right then?
VA: We had all of these plans to travel and do this and that, and then maybe have kids in our 30s. So yeah, we weren’t really expecting it. However, when we decided to try we ended up with a healthy baby.
DD: And as far as the cervical cancer goes, are you still dealing with that?
VA: I have to get tested every six months until I’m in the “safe zone,” and I have to be tested four times total, then it’ll move to every year and then every five years. I’ve done my second test and everything is still good. We were able to just tackle it with surgery.
DD: Do you have the option of trying for another baby?
VA: We’ve talked about it. I told Pam [Foster] – she’s like another mother to me – that if I got pregnant again I’d be taking a few months off. I just told her the other day that we’re thinking about trying for another one starting this summer.
DD: How has your life changed since you became a mom?
VA: It’s changed a lot! I did not have patience with kids before; I was the mean aunt. Anybody who needed their kids disciplined would call me and say, “The kids got in trouble, can you come talk to them?” And I would go over to help. Now that I have my baby, I’ve become more loveable and I was blessed to breast feed her for twenty months. She never even got sick. She changed my whole world. Everybody knows how much I love her.
DD: I’m sure she has plenty of aunties [at your office].
VA: Oh yeah. She comes up and destroys everybody’s desks and they’ll say,
“Yareli was here,” [laughs].
DD: And do you have a lot of family nearby?
VA: Yes, I’ve got my mom and dad, they live nearby. And my sisters and brothers do, too. My parents get to watch her during the day. My dad calls her his princess and my mom does, too – even though we’ve got a lot of nephews and nieces, they still call her that and spoil her. Including me, there’s six of us and then our parents. We have big family gatherings often. My husband doesn’t come from a big family, so he had to learn that every birthday or holiday or even every Sunday – we’re not cooking, we’re calling everybody to get together and we’re going out to eat. Whoever makes it makes it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday. It’s tradition!
DD: Did she have fun at Christmas? Did she get to meet Santa?
VA: Yes. We took her to see Santa and the woman told her she needed to wait her turn, and she said, “I need to tell Santa Claus he was naughty and left a mess at the house!” And this woman was so confused and Yareli went on, “He left the cookies and made a mess!” So this was her first year having gifts from Santa and understanding they are from Santa. She’s asking so many questions now. We put up the Christmas tree with her and celebrated. I had to record her because she kept insisting that Santa made a mess of her tree. I tried to tell her it’s okay because Santa had to fit the gifts in under it.
DD: She sounds like fun kid. But, I have to ask; does she know about the Tooth Fairy? She’s got about two more years before she has to worry about that, but still.
VA: So she hasn’t lost any teeth yet, but she did ask where do the teeth go when they fall out? So I told her that when we put them under her pillow, a lady in a big, big dress comes to take them – like a princess. So she’s just accepted that the Tooth Princess will come for her baby teeth when it’s time.
DD: With everything you’ve told me, it sounds like you have such a solid support system.
VA: I do, I really do.
DD: What are some of the things you’ve learned from the people here?
VA: If I have any problems, I talk to Pam. I help her as much as I can and she teaches me what I need to know. If I have any kind of an error I come to her and she helps me out with it. She’s such a good teacher. Anybody can learn from her and I really like that about her. She goes over things in detail. Annette has always been there, too, especially if you need any prayers. Stormi is a good friend of mine since day one, she’s always been there for me. Dr. Sebourn is good to work with, he’s very straightforward. I wouldn’t replace him ever.
DD: What did it feel like when we surprised you with Employee of the Month? After the initial shock, that is!
VA: I thought I was in trouble at first [laughs]! I came around the corner and I was just so off-guard. But it’s the best feeling. It’s so good to know that you’re being recognized and appreciated. You hear ‘thank you’ from patients, but to have it from other team members, it’s really amazing.
Veronica was nominated by her coworkers at Dental Depot for the December 2019 Employee of the Month award. Here’s some of what they had to say:
“Veronica is always helping myself and the orthodontics team when we were still at the Central OKC, we really appreciate her hard work.” Daniel Irwin, Invisalign & Orthodontic Clinical Support Manager
“Veronica always goes out of her way to make sure the patients and her teammates are taken care of. She has a big heart and is always willing to help however she can!” Aubrey Drechsler, Patient Care Coordinator