Oncology nurses are not just supporting for individual patients, but entire patient communities as well.
I met Joy V. Hepkins, M.S.N., RN, OCN, an oncology nurse navigator at Mercy Catholic Medical Center — Mercy Fitzgerald Campus in Darby, Pennsylvania, in 2012 when I received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Hearing the words “you have cancer” is overwhelming. In a quest to get some additional information, I decided to join a cancer support group, and Joy was the facilitator of the group at Mercy Fitzgerald. When I met her for the first time, she put me at ease about my upcoming treatment schedule and surgery.
As things progressed with my treatment, I could not attend the meetings. Months went by, but I could always count on a call from either Joy or someone from the group to see how I was doing. Once I was able, I went back to the support group, and, as before, Joy received me with open arms. It was great being back with this joyful group of cancer patients and survivors.
In 2014, I began the process of establishing Sisters R Us Circle of Survivors (SRUCOS) as a non- profit organization to help other women affected by a diagnosis of breast cancer. Joy agreed to be the keynote speaker for our first fundraiser. Then, in 2015, she joined our board of directors to help us support underserved patients who have received a diagnosis of breast cancer, providing financial aid, survivorship resources, mammograms and efforts to connect survivors with other breast cancer patient advocacy organizations. As an oncology nurse, Joy has helped SRUCOS meet the needs of patients with cancer and survivors in the most effective of ways.
Joy received bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees in nursing from Gwynedd Mercy University in 2014 and 2019, respectively, and now dedicates her professional time to supporting patients as they receive diagnoses, undergo treatment and live beyond a cancer diagnosis. She continues to impress SRUCOS with her commitment to help patients with all types of cancer.
Joy is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), serving as newsletter editor for the Penns Wood Chapter and a member of the leadership team for the ONS Nurse Navigator Special Interest Group. Additionally, she is a member of the National Coalition of Oncology Nurse Navigators and the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators.
I believe that Joy’s background as a nurse navigator, coupled with her passion to support non- profit organizations in her community, make her an ideal oncology professional who is worthy of the highest recognition.
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