Never-Ending Generosity: An Extraordinary Pediatric Oncology Nurse, Patient Advocate and Spiritual Healer
May 06, 2019 – James LaBelle, M.D., Ph.D.
Always Ready to Volunteer
April 15, 2019 – Dianne Rohald
Going the Extra Mile
April 16, 2019 – Cora Beth Hartfield
Part of the Family
April 17, 2019 – Kathy LaTour
Making a Dream Come True
April 18, 2019 – Kathy LaTour
The Embodiment of Caring and Support
April 24, 2019 – Shelley Fess, M.S., RN-BC, AOCN, CRNI, VA-BC
Born to Love and Serve
April 21, 2019 – Mellisa Wheeler, M.H.A., B.S.W.
Healing With Compassion and Grace
April 20, 2019 – Carolina Fasola, M.D., M.P.H.
Forming Lifelong Bonds
April 18, 2019 – Kathy LaTour
Currently Viewing
Making a Dream Come True
April 18, 2019 – Kathy LaTour
Making Wishes Come True: Fairy Godmothers of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
May 05, 2019 – Andrea Kabacinski, M.S., RN
A Beautiful Soul: An Oncology Nurse with Love, Compassion and Knowledge
May 11, 2019 – Teresa Corso
Two Lost People and an Angel
May 19, 2019 – Maria Campos
Taking Things One Day at a Time
May 18, 2019 – Alvin David, B.S.N., RN-BC
Healing Close to Home
May 25, 2019 – Carol Schumacher
A Calming Spirit
May 27, 2019 – Stephanie Fraser, M.S.W.
Healing Close to Home
May 25, 2019 – Carol Schumacher
Encouraging Fitness and Fellowship
June 23, 2019 – Honora R. Miller
A Dynamic Problem Solver
June 22, 2019 – Karen Leary
An Oncology Nurse at Heart
June 16, 2019 – Jeanine Gordon and Jaclyn Andronico
Dedicated to Oncology
June 15, 2019 – Tracey M. Hopkins
Unshakable Loyalty
June 02, 2019 – Peggy Hufty
Making Everyone Better
June 08, 2019 – Meaghan Connors
The Compassion Gene
June 01, 2019 – Sandy Allten, RN, OCN, CCRP
Sharing Her Gifts and Talents: A Breast Cancer Survivor and Registered Nurse
July 04, 2019 – Patricia Campbell, B.S.N., RN
Pediatric Oncology Nurse Always Thinking of 'Her Kids'
July 14, 2019 – Alice Cockerel, M.S.N., M.S.M./HM, RN, ONC, CNL
Tirelessly Committed to Nursing: An Extraordinary Oncology Nurse
July 14, 2019 – Margaret M. Coursen, RN, OCN
A Dedicated, Energetic Healer and Pediatric Oncology Nurse
July 21, 2019 – Kristi Frenken, B.S.N., RN
Healing Patients with Cancer on Small and Large Scales
July 20, 2019 – Eleanor Miller, M.S.N., RN, OCN, CBCN
My Personal Cancer Champion
August 10, 2019 – Anne Heimel
Hope Personified: My Tour Guide on My Path to Being a Cancer Survivor
August 11, 2019 – Lori Jaffe

Making a Dream Come True

An interview with Barbara Bittner, RN, OCN, CURE® Extraordinary Healer® Award finalist.
BY Kathy LaTour
PUBLISHED April 18, 2019
In 2012, Barbara Bittner, RN, OCN, made some big changes in her life. As her youngest son prepared to leave for college from their home in Pennsylvania, she prepared to move to Florida, where she wouldn’t have to battle the snow for four months a year.

She had been a nurse for 34 years, spending most of her time on a hospital IV team. She did all the inpatient IV chemotherapy for patients with cancer, but, she says, found a new understanding of the disease when a colleague’s 29-year-old daughter received a cancer diagnosis.

“She had two small children,” Bittner says. “Her illness made me pay attention, and I felt like I had lost a friend when she passed.”

Making a new home in Florida offered an opportunity to adjust her focus, and AdventHealth in New Smyrna Beach needed a navigator, a job that seemed meant for her. Since then, she has seen patients with cancer at the hospital, assessing not only their physical health but also their mental health as they face their diagnosis and treatment.

Women can receive treatment at a number of places in the area, and Bittner and navigators from other facilities made a point of sharing advice about how to help their patients. One of those colleagues was Charlene Brady, a breast cancer survivor and nurse navigator at another hospital. When Brady received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her friends wanted to make one of her dreams come true — and support their patients with various cancer types at the same time.

“She had always wanted a resource room where the women could hang out,” Bittner says. “Then she got sick with pancreatic cancer. And when she was near the end of life, we told her we were going to create her dream.”

A local church offered a cottage-style building to be used by women affected by cancer, complete with a fireplace and a room for bra fittings. Five of the colleagues, each from a different hospital, teamed up to fill the house with resources: wigs, crafts, bras, prostheses and lymphedema sleeves. Charlene’s Dream opened in the summer of 2016, just after Brady died, but Bittner says they were able to show her the location and paint a picture of what it would offer in her name.

Bittner taught an art class at the facility for the first year, and then local artists volunteered to teach. Multiple support groups brought together women from two counties and numerous hospitals and clinics. Bittner still facilitates one of the groups.

“We got a grant to purchase much of our inventory,” Bittner says. All products and services, including meetings with navigators, massage therapy and measurement for prostheses or bras, are free, provided by volunteers.

Women also like to sit in the living room in front of the fireplace and share their experiences and advice with each other.

It’s a place that Charlene Brady would have loved.
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