Going Above and Beyond for Patients With Cancer

Val always goes above and beyond, and she holds herself to an impeccably high standard.

By Erin Longstreth-Papsun, M.S.N., OCN, RN

I would like to nominate Valerie Heron, B.S.N., RN, OCN, for the Extraordinary Healer® Award. Valerie has been the primary clinic nurse at Fox Chase Cancer Center’s East Norriton satellite office since it opened approximately three years ago, and it is widely acknowledged by providers, staff and patients alike that not only the survival but also the significant success of the medical oncology program here are due to her diligent and uncompromising work ethic and positive energy.

Val always goes above and beyond, and she holds herself to an impeccably high standard. She talks frequently about what it means to be “Fox Chase” in order to remind herself and the rest of us why we chose to work here and to inspire us to continue to live out the values and mission of Fox Chase Cancer Center — to prevail over cancer. In this way, she is a leader among her peers, and she demonstrates these values in action when she stays late to make sure that patients get the right amount of information before starting chemotherapy, that biopsies have been scheduled or that labs have been tracked down. It is not uncommon for her to go the extra mile, and she does so simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I could go on and on with more examples of how she overachieves, but possibly even more impressive is that being a clinic nurse was new to her when she started here at East Norriton. She previously was an infusion room nurse at the main campus, but she has impressively mastered the demands of not just a single tumor site but also multiple solid tumor and hematology challenges. She knows how to schedule a bone marrow biopsy, what the standard therapy is for breast cancer, what the expected side effects of immunotherapy are, how to order multiple types of specialty medicines and molecular testing and, perhaps most importantly, how to talk to patients about the details of their disease and treatment in a way that they can understand.

Val’s care for patients is her most noteworthy accomplishment. She always makes patient care her priority, and she treats every patient with the utmost respect and dignity. She comforts patients when they receive bad news and celebrates with them when they reach a milestone. Patients clearly love Val. They all ask for her by name and look for her when they need questions answered. They trust and confide in her, and that’s because they know she cares about them.

Her love and concern also extend to the staff, and we are especially grateful for this. She is the first to plan a party, buy a gift, organize a lunch. She is quick to make a joke to bring people together or offer a helping hand or a shoulder when someone needs it. These are some of the small but important ways that she holds us together and makes us a team. We are fortunate to have her in our corner.

It is with great pleasure that our team nominates Valerie Heron for the Extraordinary Healer® Award.

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