A night of grace and extraordinary healing

Last week we held an annual event that coincides with the Oncology Nursing Society annual congress. This event honors extraordinary oncology nurses chosen by our readers, who write essays about why we should choose their nurse for the honor. Each year the CURE editorial staff struggles to choose which of the essayists have told the story of their nurse and their "above and beyond" the best. The event is a celebration of nursing with food and a celebrity mistress of ceremonies. This year actress and singer Ann Jillian filled the role by entertaining and inspiring the nurses as she spoke from the heart about her own cancer experience before helping to hand out the crystal awards given to each nominee as their nominator read his or her essay to the hundreds of assembled oncology nurses from across the country. This year winner Valerie Bosselman wrote about Dorothy Wahrman, the nurse who cared for her daughter Megan during a recurrence of adrenal cortical carcinoma when Megan was in her mid 20s. It was a gut-wrenching essay about a mother's worst nightmare, the death of a child, and you can read it in the summer issue of CURE. She wrote of the presence of Wahrman during Megan's chemotherapy and how the nurse was able to transcend the typical nurse relationship with a sixth sense of when Megan or Valerie needed her. Indeed, Valerie wrote of Megan's final hours in a hospice facility and how Wahrman showed up just before they induced a coma to help manage Megan's increasing pain. She didn't call, she just showed up--at exactly the right time to bid this young woman goodbye. When Valerie left the stage, I felt strongly that Megan was with her mom at that moment, inspiring her and motivating her to tell the assembled nurses how much their love and care means to those going through the cancer journey. After the celebration Valerie and I talked about the feeling we both had, and Valerie told me that this award and the ability to tell Megan's story helped her feel some relief and that something positive could come from such a tragedy. She is now working on a book about Megan's journey.For those of us at CURE who were honored to be there while Valerie read her winning essay, it affirmed our role in the lives of those with cancer and the people who care for them. It was a very special night and one that no one who was present will forget.