An Oncology Nurse Who Is One of a Kind, Kind to Everyone

Extraordinary Healer®Extraordinary Healer® Volume 17
Volume 17

Among the extraordinary collection of givers are singular nurses who stand above the rest like a beacon guiding the profession toward its highest order. Anthony “Tony” Reynolds, RN, of ARH Cancer Center is one such nurse.

Anthony "Tony" Reynolds, RN, a nurse wearing blue scrubs, standing in front of an IV pole — Photo courtesy of Appalachian Regional Healthcare

Anthony “Tony” Reynolds, RN, attended hundreds of funerals for patients over his years as an oncology nurse.

Anthony "Tony" Reynolds, RN — Photo courtesy of Appalachian Regional Healthcare

It can be said that all nurses are extraordinary. They devote their lives to healing, nurturing, soothing and supporting people at the most vulnerable points in their lives. But among this extraordinary collection of givers are singular nurses whose hearts are so pure, whose motives so genuine, that they stand above the rest like a beacon guiding the profession toward its highest order. Anthony “Tony” Reynolds, RN, of ARH Cancer Center is one such nurse.

His colleagues speak of him with a reverence that is full of wonder and awe. As I came to learn more about Tony, I asked his colleagues to share with me their sentiments, and I am convinced that Tony is the perfect person for the Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing.

“To say that Tony is an earth angel is an understatement,” Shannon Morton, RN, patient navigator at ARH Cancer Center, said. “There is no one else like him. We have a wonderful group on staff here at our cancer center in Hazard. All of them are caring, respectful, knowledgeable nurses, but Tony — there’s like an aura around him. He has a true God-given gift. ... It just flows out of him. It’s not just what he says or what he does. He always has this love that comes out of his eyes; they twinkle.”

Of course, what he does every day is above and beyond what any nurse is expected to do, and his colleagues are quick to speak of his seemingly limitless acts of kindness and devotion.

“Tony does anything and everything for our patients,” Vicky Boggs, B.S.N., RN, nurse manager at ARH Cancer Center, said. “He drives them home if they need a ride and picks them up if they can’t get to the clinic. He stops at the store along the way if they need a snack. He gives them his home phone number in case they have problems over the weekend. He is never rushed with patients, even though he has a million things to do.”

She continued, “He’s smart, and his memory is incredible. He remembers patients’ birthdays, their phone numbers and the names of their husbands, wives and children. We have some 30 to 40 patients a day, so that’s no small feat. He buys patient presents for their birthdays and for Christmas and Halloween.”

Tony visits patients in hospice, and when a patient passes away — and sadly they often do — Tony attends their funerals — every single one. His colleagues estimate he’s been to hundreds of funerals in his 30-plus years as an oncology nurse.

“He never misses a funeral. Never, ever,” Shannon said. “He’s at the funeral home three or four times a week, and not just the local funeral homes but those that are five or six counties away. I’ve never seen anything like it. Last year we had a patient who knew he was going to pass away. He asked Tony if he would take his dog. Not only did Tony say yes, but he drove close to 100 miles round trip to another county to go and get the dog and bring it home with him, when he already had multiple dogs of his own.”

Many of Tony’s colleagues have been personally touched by his kindness and generosity of spirit. Anita McDaniel, RN, an oncology nurse who worked with Tony for 10-plus years, describes her experience when Tony cared for her husband after he received a diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma, a battle her husband lost in fall 2022.

“It’s so different being on the patient or family member side,” Anita said. “You think you’re ready to deal with cancer after working in oncology care for 41 years. You think you can handle it better than you can, but you find out you can’t handle it any better than any other family member who’s facing the loss of a loved one.”

She continued, “My husband took his diagnosis with grace and dignity, and Tony helped facilitate that acceptance. Tony was such a source of knowledge and comfort for my husband. Smart as a whip, and he made my husband feel comfortable, even at his sickest. He made him feel like it was going to be all right and helped us find peace with what we knew would be the outcome. He’s just an outstanding nurse and an amazing person.”

It’s the same scenario in Tony’s personal life, his colleagues say. They note that he’s played an integral role in raising his nieces and nephews, navigating their troubled times and supporting them as more of a parent than an uncle.

“There are no boundaries to what Tony gives,” Shannon said. “It’s a gift he can’t hide it. I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s an aura. It’s magical. He’s grateful to be here every day.”

Personal statements from Tony’s colleagues at ARH Cancer Center include as follows:

Jamie Ashley: “If ever there were a nurse who was sent down from heaven, it is Tony. He goes above and way beyond for his patients. ALL of the patients love him. On a personal level, I can say this, as well. When my stepmother was a patient, she always loved her Tony. He truly listens and cares and is the hardest worker I know. In my opinion, he deserves the best nursing award ever.”

Shannon Morton, RN: “I would love to nominate Tony for every award in life. He truly lives his life as though it is a gift for him to serve the sick to the best of his ability. He never complains nor tires of doing what he took an oath to do as a nurse many years. The man has a heart of gold!”

Nadine Terry: “I would love for Tony to win this award. I can honestly say he’s one of the best nurses I have ever come in contact with. Tony is the staple of this clinic. When or if he ever retires, he will be greatly missed by his co-workers and patients. He is irreplaceable!”

Kari Combs: “Tony is one of the best nurses I have had the privilege to work alongside of. He is extremely compassionate and kind to every patient and family member he encounters, which is exactly what it takes in this field to be one of the best. As soon as patients come through the door, they ask where Tony is. Tony always goes above and beyond. We are blessed to have him!”

Vicky Boggs, B.S.N., RN: “Tony is caring, dedicated, and willing to work any job needed in the clinic. He always does the little things that you would not think of to enhance the patient experience. Patients ask for him as soon as they walk in the door, and when he’s not working, they immediately ask where he is!”

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