2016 Extraordinary Healer Award Finalists
Carmi Fazio, RN, MSN, ONA
Oak Brook, Illinois
Nominated by Lisa Chapman
When patients of Molina Healthcare need help, they call the managed care nurse Carmi Fazio, RN, MSN, ONA, or, if she hasn’t heard from them, she is the one doing the calling. She answers questions, educates about treatment and prepares patients for side effects, telling them, “You call me if you have trouble.”
But the 80 to 90 patients she talks with every week just reflect her day job. At night she volunteers to talk with patients from around the country and internationally who she met while a nurse moderator for a website offered by the American Cancer Society. The calls come from across the U.S. and from Scotland, Belgium, the Philippines or even Saudi Arabia. In response to why she kept counseling these patients when she was no longer on the site, she says, “You can’t make a commitment to the journey and then walk away.”
Fazio calls herself a late bloomer, not finding her path in life until her 40s while working as a floor nurse at an elite hospital. “I could see at the end of the hall past a glass wall that there was much more going on, and when I asked my manager what it was, she said it was the oncology unit, and to work there I needed specialization in areas I didn’t have.” Fazio didn’t blink before she said, “sign me up.”
From then on, it has been a dedication that anyone would call above and beyond. Fazio has bought her patients cell phones and paid for funerals when there were no funds. For patients who had to stay in town for treatment over the holidays, she brought them into her home so they wouldn’t be alone in a hotel. Her elderly mother still lives upstairs, and Fazio says her role is to add patients to her prayer list.
Her greatest commitment to her patients comes in her focus on connection, because she explains, most of them simply want to know someone is there in the moment. All her patients have her home telephone number because she is concerned someone may take over their pain management who doesn’t understand the patient or their drug regimen.
Fazio says that when she thinks of all the men and women she has worked with, there is no doubt that she has learned much more from them than they have from her.
For those who she has been with to the end, she says it is like “watching angels take flight.”
Lynne Joy Malestic, RN
Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center
Rancho Mirage, California
Nominated by Cera Stanford, RN, BSN, PHN
Lynne Malestic can’t wait to go to work. Every day she wakes filled with joy that she will spend her day taking care of patients with cancer as an infusion nurse.
She brings to her patients a caring and calm that they cannot explain other than to say that when she is there, they are calm. She says that when she is with them, she is also calm.
Her ability to listen came in handy in her first career as a bartender. She held the job while getting her first nursing certification, but there was never any question that she would be a nurse.
“Everyone called my mother, Mother Teresa, because she took care of everyone whether they were family or friends. I grew up helping to care for others.”
After completing her RN, she worked in obstetrics for 15 years until her best friend was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“She was the one who kept pushing me to complete my RN,” Malestic says. “I went to the hospital with her for chemotherapy and was really excited to learn something new.”
After getting chemo-certified, Malestic jumped right in to oncology; her friends from obstetrics told her she would be back. She never considered it.
It wasn’t long before an oncologist asked her to work for him, and, after some negotiation, she agreed. Today she works five days a week taking care of her patients — even taking them into her home if need be.
Malestic came to know a couple who had no support outside the hospital. The wife had lung cancer, and Malestic gave them her phone number encouraging them to call if they needed anything. The next day the husband called and said that after his wife’s radiation, she could no longer climb the stairs to their apartment.
She moved them into her home for two months until she could find ground-floor housing. They continued to be friends even after the wife died, and then when the husband developed cancer, he returned to Lynne’s home where he lived until he died 17 months later.
Malestic says she knows some might see such involvement as too much, but not for her or her family. Both her husband and daughter were involved in the couple’s care. Today Malestic’s daughter talks about being an oncology nurse.
“She wanted to be an oncologist until she did volunteer work and saw the doctors leave and the nurses continuing to work with the patients. That was when she decided it was nursing she wanted.”
Diana Gordon, RN, MSN, CPNP, CPON
Division of Pediatric Hematology Oncology
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Nominated by Julie Blatt, MD
When Diana Gordon, RN, MSN, CPNP, CPON, began working with hospitalized children on the general pediatric floor early in her nursing career, she found it was the children with chronic illnesses that drew her to them, including cancer because of the ongoing therapy it required. She also found it was important to include the whole family, establishing a relationship that would give the family a sense of security.
For the past 26 years, Gordon has specialized in hematology/oncology pediatric cases. “I felt like I could make a difficult situation easier to bear,” says Gordon of the hundreds of children and families she has cared for. “Being there day after day gave them continuity, which enabled trust and therefore security.”
Nurses do whatever it takes to meet the needs of their patients, Gordon adds. With her soft voice, it’s hard to imagine insurance companies responding when she calls about reversing a denial for coverage of a specialty drug for one of her patients, but they do, because Gordon doesn’t give up. “I don’t want a family to worry about how they will pay for treatments,” she says. “They need to focus on caring for their child.”
Gordon appreciates how children deal with illness, continuing to do the things they enjoy and getting out of bed as quickly as possible. Getting on the floor to play with her patients, Gordon says she can take time for assessments that children don’t even know are happening. They want to be normal, so they play and use games to get through the hard times.
During her tenure as a nurse, Gordon has watched dramatic changes, as cure rates for childhood cancer have risen to more than 90 percent. But she recognizes it still takes a team to care for children with cancer and their families, including financial counselors, social workers, psychology specialists and physical therapists, to name a few. As a nurse practitioner, Gordon has been able to help meet those needs through relationships that can be difficult to explain.
“Today I had an 8-year-old who came in with problems that indicate her tumor may have recurred. She arrived wearing a new ring and was so proud to give me one so we could be just alike. I think that in her own way she knows we are in this together.”
Extraordinary Healer Event
Each year, CURE® magazine invites patients, survivors, caregivers and peers to submit an essay in nomination of an extraordinary oncology nurse in their lives. The contest, CURE magazine's Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing, offers these essayists and the nurses they nominate the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to an annual awards ceremony and reception held in their honor.
The awards ceremony and reception, was held on April 23, 2015, in conjunction with the Oncology Nursing Society's 40th Annual Congress, was attended by close to a thousand nurses from across the country. Each of the three essay nominations were read aloud to standing ovations. This year's winner, Laura Vasquez, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, was awarded the Extraordinary Healer Award for 2015 and a special spa trip to Travaasa Spa in Austin, Texas, in recognition of her service to her pediatric patients and their families. In addition to the presentation of the finalist essays, the reception also featured an inspirational, and at times humorous, keynote from award-winning actress and author, Valerie Harper.
About the Book
The eighth volume of the award-winning series, Extraordinary Healers: CURE Readers Honor Oncology Nurses, highlights the extraordinary men and women who make a difference in patients' lives.
To celebrate nurses, CURE created the Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing, asking readers to write an essay about an oncology nurse who went above and beyond to help them heal. The top essayists and their nurses are honored at a reception held in conjunction with the Oncology Nursing Society's annual congress.
To pay tribute to all the nurses nominated, CURE compiled the top essays received for the contest into Extraordinary Healers: CURE Readers Honor Oncology Nurses. This book includes the winning essay, finalist essays and a collection of nominated essays from the contest. Coupled with exquisite black-and-white photography, CURE readers tell the amazing stories of these exceptional nurses in this unique set of books.
In its eighth installment, Extraordinary Healers features a variety of teaching moments from the featured essays and a list of all nurses who were nominated for the 2014 award.
The printing and distribution of this inspiring book has been made possible by the generous support of Amgen and The Takeda Oncology Company.
This year's Special Guest Speaker will be two-time Emmy® Award-winning actor Eric Stonestreet of television's hit comedy "Modern Family." Stonestreet is a cancer advocate and spokesperson for Ready. Raise. Rise., a Bristol-Myers Squibb program dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about Immuno-Oncology research.
Before you submit your essay, we recommend that you read:
Download our easy-to-complete nomination form that will guide you through the process.
Once complete, submit your essay to:
*if using CURE’s nomination form please attach it to your email or paste the entire document in the email message.
Or mail to:
Attn: Extraordinary Healer award
666 Plainsboro Rd
Plainsboro, NJ 08536
Direct any questions to email@example.com.
Nominations should be made by one person—a current or former patient, caregiver or peer— to honor one oncology
nurse. Submit a 700- to 1,000-word essay detailing how your extraordinary nurse has helped you. Nominees entered for
previous years remain eligible with new essays.
Each submission must include the nurse’s name, credentials, place of employment, telephone number and email (if
available), as well as your name, address, telephone number, and email (if available). Entries without required information
and/or entries that feature more than one nurse will be ineligible for the contest.
Submit your essay online OR mail nominations to:
Attention: Extraordinary Healer Award
666 Plainsboro Road, Bldg 300
Plainsboro, NJ 08536
Nominations must be received no later than December 31, 2015. Finalists will be notified by March 1. Late
nominations will not be accepted. Nominations must be complete and in compliance with instructions to be eligible for
consideration. Submissions will be judged by the staff of CURE Media Group.
Three nurse finalists and the individuals who nominate them, plus one guest each, will receive round-trip airfare and
two-night accommodations in San Antonio, Texas, where they will be honored at a reception to be held in conjunction with
the Oncology Nursing Society’s 41st Annual Congress, April April 28-May 1, 2016. One nurse will receive the 2016
Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing and will also receive a special prize in recognition of his or her service to
cancer patients and survivors.
CURE Media Group is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, damaged, illegible, or postage-due mail or for delayed or
incomplete e-mail transmissions. If you have questions about the contest, email firstname.lastname@example.org. By submitting
an essay, you agree that CURE Media Group shall become the proprietor of the submission and of all rights therein
throughout the world including, without limitation, the copyright and all rights under copyright therein.
Finalist essays may be published in a 2016 issue of CURE, CURExtra, curetoday.com and related products in any media,
whether now known or thereafter devised, without compensation. Contest is open to current and former patients with a
history of cancer diagnosis, their caregivers, and nursing peers. Employees of CURE Media Group, its sponsors,
advertising/public relations agencies, and members of their immediate families and households are not eligible.
Three finalists will receive round-trip airfare from a major airport in the continental United States and two-night
accommodations for themselves and one guest each to attend the awards reception in San Antonio, Texas, to read their
essay aloud and be present when a winner is awarded. The winning essay will be published in a 2016 issue of CURE. The
three nurse nominees will also receive round-trip airfare from a major airport in the continental United States and
two-night accommodations for themselves and one guest each to attend the awards reception. The nurse who is awarded
the 2016 CURE Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing will receive a special gift in recognition of his or her
service to cancer patients and survivors.
Finalists will be selected on or about March 1 by the CURE staff on the basis of how the essay best portrays the
inspirational and exceptional qualities of an oncology nurse, including compassion, expertise, helpfulness, and insight;
originality and creativity of the essay; and the number of qualified entries each nurse receives. The decision of the judges
is final. Finalists will be notified by phone or e-mail and will be required to complete an Affidavit of Eligibility and
Liability/Publicity/Materials Release, which must be returned within three business days of receipt of the notification letter
or alternate finalists will be selected. Finalists under the age of 18 must have the written consent of their parent or legal
guardian. Finalists shall agree in writing that CURE Media Group and anyone they may authorize may, without
compensation, use finalist’s name, photograph or other likeness, biographical information and statements concerning the
contest or the sponsors, and essays for purposes of advertising and promotion without additional compensation. For a list
of finalists, go to curetoday.com/extraordinaryhealer on or before June 1, 2016. All federal, state, and local laws and
regulations apply. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase required.
ONS 41st Annual Congress
Hemisfair Ballroom (located on the 3rd Floor)
San Antonio, Texas
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
(registration is from 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm)
limited seating, we require all registrants to also stop by the CURE booth (1635) to confirm registration and pick up a "fast pass" ticket. Registrants who do not bring their "fast pass" ticket will be required to wait in the onsite registration line. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!