Kiss your nurse day

Washington DC has become the City of Angels this week as more than 3,500 oncology nurses have gathered to attend the Oncology Nursing Society's 38th Annual Congress. CURE is present to confer our Extraordinary Healer award on one oncology nurse nominated by you, our readers. This is the 7th year we have had the event and last night there was standing room only when some 750 nurses gathered in the ballroom of the Washington Convention Center to hear the three finalists read their essays before we awarded the top prize and an all expenses paid spa weekend in the Austin Hill Country. Our mistress of ceremonies, actress Marlee Maitlin, was the youngest actress to win an Academy Aaward for Children of a Lesser God. It was mesmerizing to watch her sign her presentation while her interpreter, Jack Jason, spoke about her family's struggles with cancer and her feelings that, like deafness, cancer does not define a person. This was the first year we didn't have all three essayists there to read their essay. In fact we had two who were seen on video. Julie Hinson, RN, BSN, OCN, a nurse from the Gynecologic Oncology department at the Salem Cancer Institute at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon, was nominated by her patient Joyce Lowry. Lowry teaches in Okinawa, Japan, and couldn't travel to be with us. Another essayist, Anne Ott of Metairie, Louisiana, stayed with her husband in the transplant unit of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She also delivered her essay about nurse Angela Krach on video and was represented by her parents John and Margaret Falgoust at the event. The third finalist was Steven Cuzzilla, RN, ADN, from the Myelosuppression Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was nominated by Cassie Jones of Ingleside, Texas.Each of these nurses went above and beyond in their nursing careers for their patients -- from the mounds of forms needed by Lowry to travel back and forth when she learned she had had a recurrence of her cancer to Cuzzilla, who changed his career to oncology nursing after losing his wife to melanoma so touched was he by the loving care they received while she battled her cancer. Angela Krach, RN, BSN was instrumental in helping Ann and her fiancé James get married in the chapel at M.D. Anderson. The couple was putting the finishing touches on their wedding for last summer when James was diagnosed and they picked up their lives and moved them to Houston from Metarie. The event was made possible by sponsorship from Amgen Oncology and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. When Angela Krach was announced the winner, it was time to celebrate oncology nursing and the strength of these amazing women and men who have come this week to learn how to be there for us in our hour of need. So if you haven't thanked your oncology nurse today, you might want to give him or her a call.