At the ONS 36th Annual Congress, Honorary Mistress of Ceremonies Cynthia Nixon kicked off the festivities for the 2011 CURE magazine Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing with a rousing tribute.
“Nurses are the foot soldiers in the battle against cancer, but sometimes, as in the case of our honorees today, they can also be generals disguised as foot soldiers— strategizing, making battle plans, boosting morale, and making sure the home front is receiving the support they need,” said Nixon, an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awardwinning actress and breast cancer survivor.
The Extraordinary Healer contest invites patients, survivors, caregivers, and peers to submit essays nominating oncology nurses for their outstanding dedication, knowledge, and compassion in treating a patient with cancer. The ceremony marked the 5th straight year that CURE has announced the winner at the ONS Annual Congress. This year’s award was sponsored by Amgen Oncology and its Breakaway from Cancer initiative.
CURE chose 3 finalists out of nearly 200 submissions to read their essays at the ceremony, which was attended by more than 800 oncology nurses. The recognized nurses appeared alongside the authors as they read their pieces.
Following an emotional program, Marie Hayek, RN, Columbus Community Hospital, Texas, was awarded the first-place prize. Martha Hastedt, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2002, wrote the award-winning essay, “My Marie,” about the remarkable care Hayek provided in the community-based setting.
“Her compassion, expertise, and helpfulness are especially remarkable because she must wear so many hats at a 40-bed acute care rural medical and surgical facility,” said Hastedt. “Treatments are always given in an accurate and professional manner, but she somehow manages to make me smile and be comfortable, no matter what the procedure,” she added.
“Marie doesn’t work for a large cancer center or hospital…She exemplifies extraordinary nursing each and every day. Whether that means raising money to buy a chair designated for the hospital’s cancer patients, dropping lab reports off at patients’ homes, or making sure she calls Martha when the hospital cafeteria is serving fried chicken or turkey—this woman does it all,” said Susan McClure, the publisher of CURE magazine, in a press release.
“We congratulate Marie Hayek on her outstanding work to care for patients and salute the Extraordinary Healer Award for providing this important forum to recognize the contributions made by oncology nurses everywhere,” added Stuart Arbuckle, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology.
The 2 runners-up were Robert Martinez, LPN, Bon Secours Cancer Institute at Memorial Regional Medical Center, Mechanicsville, Virginia, and Rebecca Wojtecki, RN, BSN, Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center, New York.
Corinne Gray nominated Martinez for the outstanding nursing care he provided to her husband, Leigh. Martinez took a unique path to becoming an oncology nurse. After retiring from a 33-year career in a different fi eld, he decided to join his daughter when she started nursing school.
Finalist Rita Stoddard brought the audience to tears as she described Wojtecki’s exceptional care for her son, Keith. Being diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent made it diffi cult for Keith to relate to his oncology care team. The younger Wojtecki was able to connect with Keith and became both his nurse and his friend. Demonstrating extraordinary compassion, Wojtecki also comforted Rita when Keith passed away.
The 3 recognized essays, along with an interview with Marie Hayek, will appear on CURE’s website (www.curetoday.com) at the end of June. Additionally, the summer 2011 issue of CURE will feature the winning essay.
CURE magazine is published 4 times a year and is distributed for free to cancer patients, survivors, and healthcare professionals. US Oncology owns the publication, which aims to help individuals navigate through the stages of the cancer experience.