Honoring Oncology Nurses for Extraordinary Healing

Each year for the past nine years, CURE has hosted an event at the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress that honors oncology nursing.
PUBLISHED April 27, 2015
Kathy LaTour is a breast cancer survivor, author of The Breast Cancer Companion and co-founder of CURE magazine. While cancer did not take her life, she has given it willingly to educate, empower and enlighten the newly diagnosed and those who care for them.
Each year for the past nine years, CURE has hosted an event at the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress that honors oncology nursing and awards one nurse an Extraordinary Healer Award.

We know that all oncology nurses deserve recognition (and we make that clear at the event), but we also want to honor three finalists and one winner for going above and beyond in their profession. The nominations come from our readers and are as diverse as the nurses they honor. We have awarded a spa vacation, as the winning award, to both male and female nurses who represent cancer treatment centers from across the country.

Deciding on who will win this award has always been a challenge.  How do you choose between the nurse that drives 10 hours on her own time from a small town to a large cancer center with a patient to learn how to do her chemo so she can have it at home — with a nurse that makes it possible for her patient to go to her high school prom by taking off her chemo pack just before the young woman leaves and going to her home at 4 a.m. when she returns to put it back on.

Every year we read these kinds of essays. The finalists this year were honored for helping a patient who didn’t speak English to an oncology nurse writing about her colleague and boss about how much she has learned about nursing and caring from her.

The winning essay came from the voice of a mother whose 5-year-old daughter fought a brain tumor for a number of years. She told the audience in her essay about how the nurse would come by the house and play a few games of Wii bowling with her daughter several times a week, and how, in keeping with Jewish tradition, after her daughter died, their nurse bathed her and sat with her until the funeral home arrived.

It’s an amazing kind of caring we hear about and every year, we want to honor many more than the three we do.

This year Valerie Harper was our celebrity speaker. The actress and comedian is known for her role as the iconic sidekick to Mary Tyler Moore in her series of the same name. Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010 and has been battling a recurrence with a clinical trial of Tarceva (erlotinib). She was witty and wonderful and, without one page of notes, entertained us with her stories of going through cancer.

It always seem too short when it is over, but I just wanted to give a big shout-out today to all the nurses who weren’t there this year because they were providing extraordinary healing to their patients back home. I hope you can come next year so we can honor you in person. 
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