Going the Extra Mile: Celebrating Extraordinary Healers in Oncology Nursing

BETH FAND INCOLLINGO @fandincollingo | June 13, 2018
They don't all work in pediatric units, but the 3 oncology nurses honored in the CURE® 2018 Extraordinary Healer® contest have each gone the extra mile to help young people and their loved ones through some of their most difficult moments—while also striving to make sure that their colleagues and institutions are prepared to do the very best they can for patients.

Nomination essays written by patients, colleagues, and family members cite these nurses and 24 others for going above and beyond the line of duty by offering life-changing compassion, expertise, and helpfulness.

An audience of 1000 was on hand to learn that Christine Stone, MSN, RN, OCN, of the Life with Cancer program at Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Leesburg, Virginia, had won the award. As a nurse navigator, Stone—nominated by Deborah A. Boyle, MSN, RN, AOCNS, FAAN—shepherds patients through the cancer journey from diagnosis to survivorship, providing them and their families with wellness, education, and support programs.

“I have witnessed firsthand how Christine has helped hundreds of those in crisis transcend the chaos of cancer through her guidance and advocacy,” Boyle wrote in her essay. “Everyone who meets her marvels at her interpersonal savvy and the respect she has earned from her interdisciplinary colleagues.”

During the ceremony, 2 finalists also were honored. Elizabeth Davis, BSN, RN, CPN, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee—nominated by a colleague, Anna L. DeVine, BSN, BA, RN, CPN—made a big impact during just 5 years as an oncology nurse. She brought the Baxter Animated Retching Faces (BARF) scale to her institution, making it easier for children to communicate their nausea levels, and is involved in many projects, councils, and committees aimed at soliciting and fostering ideas to improve care. She has also spearheaded charity drives. When interacting with her patients on the Solid Tumor Inpatient Unit, Davis strives to give them the best days they can have.

“Elizabeth strongly supports her colleagues and engages in activities that further improve patient care and her nursing skills,” DeVine wrote. “Her motivation doesn’t stop when her shift ends; she’s always participating in new projects around the hospital to help herself and others improve patient care quality.”

Jackie Miller, BSN, RN, OCN, of the Penn Medicine Virtua Cancer Program in Voorhees, New Jersey—nominated by a colleague, Randi Solden, BS, RN, OCN—has been a member of the center’s oncology unit since its inception. She manages a program overseen by Virtua— the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection Program, which provides health screenings for uninsured residents of 2 counties—and founded Camp Oasis to help provide emotional support for the children of southern New Jersey residents diagnosed with cancer.

“Years ago, Jackie had an idea: to create Camp Oasis, a day of fun for children whose parents were dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” Solden wrote. “Despite a tremendous amount of work and time, Jackie has said, she keeps going because she is fueled by the feedback from the parents, the cards and letters, and the joy that campers experience.”

IN AWE OF ONCOLOGY NURSES

The award ceremony was held in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the Oncology Nursing Society 43rd Annual Congress. The event, sponsored by Amgen and Merck, featured a keynote address by Robin Roberts, cohost of ABC’s Good Morning America and a 2-time cancer survivor.

Roberts was cared for by oncology nurses after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 and again 5 years later, after a therapy she took to treat that disease led to the rare blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

She told the crowd of nurses how she’d been at home, stretching, when she found a lump in her breast. She had just attended the funeral of a friend, film critic Joel Siegel, who had died of colon cancer, and—remembering how strongly he had advocated for early detection—she made an appointment to see a doctor.

Roberts credits the nurse in the room for pushing her to mention the lump. The nurse could somehow tell she was holding back information and—just by giving Roberts a meaningful look—encouraged her to reveal it. The woman nodded, satisfied, when Roberts finally asked the doctor to check the lump.

After she recovered, Roberts was thrilled to get back to her life and work, she said, but extreme fatigue led to more appointments and a diagnosis of MDS.

Nurses helped Roberts along that path, too. She described the surreal feeling of undergoing chemotherapy in preparation for her stem cell transplant and watching a doctor she didn’t know explain her condition on TV—more comprehensively than her own oncologist had. After everyone else left the room, her oncology nurse asked if Roberts wanted the phone number of the doctor, who worked for a competing hospital. Before long, that doctor became part of Roberts’ medical team.

“I’m so grateful to nurses,” Roberts said. “You have no ego—you just want what’s best for the patient.”

She also recalled the hospice nurse who helped her have a final conversation with her mother, as well as the oncology nurse at her bedside after her bone marrow transplant just days later, reviving her when she felt herself slipping away. “You guys are angels,” Roberts told the audience of nurses. “Not enough can be said. I congratulate all of you, and I’m in awe of all of you.” sored by Amgen and Merck, featured a keynote address by Robin Roberts, cohost of ABC’s Good Morning America and a 2-time cancer survivor.

Talk about this article with nurses and others in the oncology community in the General Discussions Oncology Nursing News discussion group.
External Resources

MJH Associates
American Journal of Managed Care
Cure
MD Magazine
Pharmacy Times
Physicians' Education Resource
Specialty Pharmacy Times
TargetedOnc
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