Margaret Campbell, B.S.N, RN, Wins CURE®’s 2022 Extraordinary Healer® Award


For the first time in three years, CURE® welcomed 500 attendees in person and hundreds more virtually to honor the 2022 Extraordinary Healer® award recipient.

CURE Media Group recognized Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, as the winner of its 2022 Extraordinary Healer® award, which honors nurses in the cancer community who strive to go above and beyond their call of duty.

Essays were submitted by colleagues, patients and family members identifying Campbell, two finalists and almost 100 other Extraordinary Healer® nominees, all detailing the noble acts of oncology nurses, from staging a last-minute wedding for a patient who had days to live to spending more than a decade guiding a patient through their breast cancer journey.

The Extraordinary Healer® award was given April 27 during a hybrid celebration held in conjunction with the 47th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress.

Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, is joined by friend Nikita Patel, Kristie L. Kahl, vice president of content at MJH Life Sciences, and award-winning actor, producer and cancer advocate, Patrick Dempsey.

From left: Kristie Kahl, Nikita Patel, Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, Patrick Dempsey.

Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, is joined by friend Nikita Patel, Kristie L. Kahl, vice president of content at MJH Life Sciences, and award-winning actor, producer and cancer advocate, Patrick Dempsey.

From left: Kristie Kahl, Nikita Patel, Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, Patrick Dempsey.

The night featured a keynote address from award-winning actor, producer and cancer advocate Patrick Dempsey. During his speech, Dempsey, who is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” discussed his mother’s journey with ovarian cancer as well as what led him to launch the Dempsey Center in Lewiston, Maine, in 2008.

Of note, the Dempsey Center is not a cancer treatment facility. It provides services that support healing and symptom management to patients with cancer and their families free of cost.

Dempsey talked about being live in person again for the first time in several years and expressed his gratitude to all in attendance, both in Anaheim and those watching around the world.

“Why are we here?” he asked. “What is our purpose in life? (It is) to lift up the people who are in need to give them the love (and) compassion (that) they so deserve.”

‘Quiet Hero’

Campbell, a research nurse who has worked at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston since 2003, was nominated by her colleague, Dr. Nancy Lin, associate chief of the Division of Breast Oncology in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.

Lin referred to Campbell as a “quiet hero” who, despite very little recognition — she is often not included as an author on published studies and doesn’t present medical data to an audience of her peers — balances patient obligations with the demands of the trials that have led to advances in the breast cancer space.

“I have witnessed how Margaret always goes above and beyond in communicating with patients and delivering outstanding clinical care,” Lin wrote in her nominating essay. “She takes extra care to make sure that all trial requirements are met, while also asking patients about other commitments (vacations, graduations, weddings) so that the scheduling can be adjusted to accommodate important events in patients’ lives. She advocates for her patients in ways big and small. In short, she cares for the whole person.”

The other finalists for the Extraordinary Healer® award were Livia Szeto, B.S.N., RN, OCN, a research nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Tammy Allred, RN, OCN, a nurse navigator at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Achieving a Childhood Dream

Allred was nominated by Darlene Burns, of Hampstead, North Carolina. In her nominating essay, Burns wrote that Allred dreamed as a child to have a mobile clinic to help treat children in indigent communities around the United States.

Although the allure of driving a mobile clinic faded after her graduation in 1985, Allred became interested in the newly emerging specialty of cancer care. Burns wrote that Allred saw oncology care as an opportunity to heal the human spirit, if not the disease.

And for 16 years, Allred has been doing just that as a nurse navigator at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“It’s my dream job,” Allred said. “I look at every one of my patients as if they were my family members and I treat them as I would (want to) be treated. I build close relationships with patients, and they know they can call me day or night if they need anything. One of my patients with metastatic cancer and kidney failure totaled his pickup truck while driving to dialysis. He talked to me about ending his life the day he totaled his car because he felt like he was fighting a losing battle, having cancer, kidney disease and now, no way to get to dialysis. We are working to arrange for in-home peritoneal treatment and I’m working with agencies to get him a new truck. We saved him by showing him we care.”

Driving Research with Compassion

Szeto was nominated by her colleague Dr. Christine Bestvina of the University of Chicago, who highlighted Szeto’s dedication and loyalty to her patients there, where she has worked since 1987.

“For the majority of her career, she has served as an oncology nurse navigator, working primarily in thoracic oncology,” Bestvina wrote in her essay. “I have been at the University of Chicago on faculty for less than five years and having Livia’s foundational knowledge of the university and those who work here has been essential. Throughout her years, she has facilitated strong relationships across disciplines, from interventional radiology to intravenous therapy to bed access. She is able to use all of these relationships to improve care of her patients by enabling early access to services our patients desperately need.”

Bestvina also commended Szeto’s ability to connect to her patients in a manner that allows her to elicit a patient’s sensitive information, from illicit drug use to fears at the end of life. Bestvina said that by enabling her patients to express their needs and sensitive information, the providers can take better care of the patients.

Originally a clinical trial nurse, Szeto became a nurse navigator six years ago and now helps care for patients enrolled in trials and those who are not.

“That way the patient doesn’t have to interact with so many different nurses,” Szeto explained. “There’s just one primary nurse taking care of the patient. The navigator role can be pretty complex. You’re not only taking care of the patient, but the family as well, helping them find their way through the health care system. They encounter many different specialties and need someone to help them understand them all.”


Kristie L. Kahl, vice president of content at MJH Life Sciences™, the parent company of CURE Media Group, spoke from the heart and highlighted a personal experience that spotlighted the effect oncology nurses have on their patients as well as their loved ones.

“As I sat down to think about what I wanted to say to highlight how far we’ve come in the cancer space in just 20 years, I’d be remiss not to share my own story and appreciation for every one of you in this room,” she said.

Kahl was referencing the cancer space over the past two decades as 2022 marks CURE®’s 20th year in circulation. She recalled her childhood friend, Krista, who had received a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma at aged 15 years in 2003 — just one year after CURE®’s founding. Although doctors gave Krista a poor prognosis, she had no evidence of disease eight months later. But the disease returned in 2005 and it had spread to her lungs. Kahl said she and her friends would spend their weekends visiting Krista at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where, she said, she learned how valuable oncology nurses were.

“It was then, to me, each and every single one of you in this room became a hero to me,” she said. “Before working for CURE, before anything, you all in this room wore a cape in my eyes. I was only 15, but the impact that Krista’s nurses had on my life, in addition to hers, are indescribable.”

Krista died from her disease in 2007, and Kahl she said she couldn’t help but look back at how far the space has come since.

“And a large part of that success is each and every one of you sitting in this room tonight,” she concluded.

The event was sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb and Janssen Oncology, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Peg Esper, region associate director in the U.S. Field of Medical Oncology at Bristol Myers Squibb, noted that not everyone can fulfill the responsibilities of an oncology nurse.

“Being an oncology nurse is really not for the faint of heart. I believe that you give a small portion of your soul to every patient and caregiver that you touch, you become their confidant, their resource person, the person they yell at, complain to, cry with, and hug every time they come to the clinic or the hospital,” said Esper, who spent several decades as an oncology nurse before joining the pharmaceutical company. “They trust you. They depend on you.”

Christine McDonough, marketing director for multiple myeloma at Janssen Oncology, said oncology nurses fulfill a larger purpose in life.

“You speak up for your patients when they don’t have a voice,” she said. “You support your health care team and despite burnout and frustrations, you somehow figure out a way to soldier on, giving it all you have, because to you, it’s worth it.…For you, oncology is not just a job; it’s a purpose in life.”

Erik Lohrmann, vice president of CURE Media Group, acknowledged those who made the event possible.

“Our industry partners, BMS and J&J. On behalf of MJH Life Sciences™ and all attending, thank you for making tonight possible,” he said. “My CURE® staff, who work unbelievably hard to bring our events to fruition, thank you. Lastly, and the reason we’re here tonight. The oncology nursing community. CURE® is proud to shine a spotlight on a profession that routinely goes above and beyond for cancer patients. Thank you for all you do.”

“(This event) provides (us) an opportunity to recognize those that dedicate their careers (and) their lives, to helping patients,” Lohrmann said, “renewing perspective, reminding us why we entered the health care field.”

“I speak on behalf of myself and CURE® in that we appreciate those who serve on the frontline during what can be one of the scariest and most overwhelming experiences a patient and their loved ones can face,” Kahl said during the ceremony. “I would like to thank all of the frontline workers with us tonight for everything you have done in the last two years, never skipping a beat to ensure your patients could continue treatments as the COVID-19 virus turned many of our worlds upside down. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos
Jessica McDade, B.S.N., RN, OCN, in an interview with CURE
MPN Hero, Ed Bartholemy in an interview with CURE
Sarah Miretti Cassidy
Related Content