Caring Deeply About Patients With Cancer, Colleagues and Clinical Research

Extraordinary Healer®, CURE® Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 16, Volume 16,

Ilene Galinsky, ANP-BC, "had the courage to fiercely stand up for her patients’ best interests despite conventions of rank, seniority and arbitrary rules," a colleague said.

Ilene Galinsky, ANP-BC, was born to be an oncology nurse practitioner. When I was a naive young attending physician, I was amazed that such an individual had the courage to fiercely stand up for her patients’ best interests despite conventions of rank, seniority and arbitrary rules.

I felt lucky (and a little bit scared that I might not measure up to her standards) when she was the first person I hired to help me run the fledgling leukemia program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Hiring Ilene was the single-most important thing I did. I wouldn’t have been able to convince the incomparable Dr. Dan DeAngelo to work for me (and eventually take over the leukemia division) without Ilene’s picking him out and then standing by his side as she did mine.

And what an inspiration Ilene is with her tireless devotion to our patients and the success of our program. We needed a nurse practitioner as we grew. She went to school at night and still made sure that we were getting through the days, that our patients got what they needed and that our clinical research thrived. She graduated and rapidly became a premier nurse practitioner whom patients would beg to see.

Before COVID-19, she certainly had the record for most hugs received.

She got us through audits, amendments and new protocols. She was truly instrumental in helping get a bunch of drugs approved in leukemias, including Rydapt (midostaurin), Blincyto (blinatumomab), Besponsa (ino- tuzumab ozogamicin), Ayvakit (avapritinib) and Tibsovo (ivosidenib).

Ilene makes sure the new midlevel practitioners, young attending physicians and clinical research coordinators are happy and know what they are doing. She is trusted and trustworthy in all matters leukemia. She organizes our parties and get-togethers. She brought food to one of our schedulers who was housebound by COVID-19.

But her greatest gift is her compassionate, knowledgeable and thorough patient care. She listens and helps without regard to the patient’s status/wealth/power. I have seen her deal equally and skillfully with bank presidents as with patients who live in public housing (to whom, by the way, she delivers food and clothing).

The other day, she helped a young woman with advanced leukemia make the transition from active therapy to supportive care in such a skillful and compassionate fashion that I could only marvel and give thanks — as I do daily — for the good fortune to be on the same team as Ilene Galinsky, ANP-BC.

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