Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N., RN, OCN, Wins CURE’s 2024 Extraordinary Healer® Award


During this in-person event, over 500 attendees celebrated the remarkable efforts made by oncology nurses in the care of patients with cancer.

CURE Media Group recognized Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N., RN, OCN, as the winner of its 2024 Extraordinary Healer® award, which honors nurses in the cancer community who dedicate their lives to make a difference in the lives of patients and their loved ones.

Essays were submitted by colleagues, patients and family members identifying Mooney, two finalists and 73 other Extraordinary Healer® nominees, all detailing the noble acts of oncology nurses, from, “they leave no stone unturned when meeting and assessing patients,” to “it is not just about the cancer or the patient’s treatment; it is about the person and seeing their smiles through often sad times.”

The Extraordinary Healer® award event, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, was hosted on April 24, during an in-person celebration held in conjunction with the 49th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress in Washington, D.C.

The night featured a keynote address from Kristen Dahlgren, an award-winning journalist turned breast cancer advocate. Throughout her career, she has traveled the world to document major news stories for outlets like NBC Nightly News and NBC’s Today Show. Earlier this year, she announced on the Today Show that she would be stepping down from her role at the network to start the Pink Eraser Project, which is teaming up with cancer vaccine researchers to get a safe and effect breast cancer vaccine on the market in the next five to 10 years.

Dahlgren also has a personal connection to cancer, as she was diagnosed with of stage 2 breast cancer in 2019. She recalled a family friend — who was also an oncology nurse — who took time off to come to the cancer center to spend time with Dahlgren while she underwent treatment.

“Really what I remember most is that through it all, she made me feel like a human, even a friend, at a time when nothing at all felt normal. That is a gift that I won’t forget,” she said.

Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N, RN, OCN won the 2024 Extraordinary Healer Award.   From left: Kristie L. Kahl, Meredith Cooper, Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N, RN, OCN, Kristen Dahlgren

Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N, RN, OCN won the 2024 Extraordinary Healer Award.

From left: Kristie L. Kahl, Meredith Cooper, Meaghan Mooney, B.S.N, RN, OCN, Kristen Dahlgren

Although she is currently a survivor, she emphasized the importance of the little efforts that meant so much to her throughout her cancer experience.

“Please know that all of those small, thoughtful things you do are noticed and appreciated,” she said. “In the throes of treatment, it is not always easy or top of mind for patients to say thank you, but from the bottom of our hearts, I’m going to do that for patients tonight and say thank you so much. In some of the most difficult moments of our lives, you bring hope and comfort. You give up yourselves to strangers. You sacrifice time with your families. And during the pandemic, you put yourselves at risk. All of that is appreciated. You care for every single patient who comes through the door. So we see you, we appreciate you, and while you’re about to meet all of these wonderful ladies who were nominated tonight, I think all of you are heroes.”

Supporting Children and Families

Mooney, chief of staff at Ascension Medical Group Texas in Austin, was nominated by Meredith R. Cooper, cofounder of the organization Wonders & Worries, which provides support services for children and teenagers of parents with cancer and other serious illnesses. Since serving as a chair in 2023 and cochair in 2024, she has helped to raise over $2.1 million to make sure that children receive the support they need during their parents’ illness.

In addition, she uses her years of experience as an oncology nurse to move from clinical roles to significant roles overseeing the wellbeing of patients of Ascension Medical Group.

“It is Meaghan’s unwavering dedication to supporting children and families during a parent’s illness, along with her willingness to take her direct patient care to practices within her professional position and her community service, that allows me to say Meaghan is truly an extraordinary healer deserving of this honor,” Cooper said during the ceremony.

The other finalists for the Extraordinary Healer award were Jessica McDade, B.S.N., RN, OCN, charge nurse at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and Lauren Yakelis, B.S.N., RN, manager of the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinical Program at Benson Cancer Center at Ochsner Health in New Orleans.

Encircling Patients With Care and Kindness

McDade was nominated by Susan Ayers, M.S.N., RN, OCN, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who detailed the many ways that she has been dedicated to her role as an oncology nurse since 2009. She provides care to patients with cancer, leads her department, supports new staff, serves as a resource to her team, and teaches nursing students in the clinical setting at a nearby nursing school.

In Ayers’ nominating essay, she detailed a patient on their hematology oncology unit who had a complex history of opioid use disorder while newly diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer.

“The patient was frustrated, feeling the medical world had judged and failed her,” Ayers said. “Jessica, a master of the art of nursing, bonds with patients who it can be hard to make connections with. Jessica encircles them with care and kindness. Patients talk to Jessica, and share hardships and challenges that were unknown to others.”

McDade also continued that care to the patient’s family to help them participate in her care.

“She helped Kim’s family cope with her poor prognosis,” Ayers noted. “Jessica taught them how to care for Kim and treat her like a person and not just a patient. Jessica helps patients find their voice and supports the patient during challenging conversations with family members.”

Illuminating the Pivotal Influence of Oncology Nurses

Yakelis was nominated by Kristin Linde, MHA, B.S.N., RN, BMTCN, of Benson Cancer Center, who mentioned her innate ability to lead by example and go beyond the call of duty. Some of these examples include washing the clothes of some of her hospitalized patients, organizing a Christmas reunion for a mother undergoing a stem cell transplant, and personally transporting a patient’s mother to her apartment so she can retrieve the patient’s necessary medication while they were unexpectedly admitted to the hospital 26 days after transplant.

She also played a role in launching a CAR-T cell program, marking the first of its kind in Louisiana.

“Lauren’s efforts successfully onboarded three CAR-T medications into their program, significantly broadening the spectrum of treatment options for three distinct patient populations that previously faced limited prospects,” Linde said. “She stands as an exemplary role for nurses, simultaneously illuminating the pivotal influence that nurses can have within the realm of health care."

‘A Composition of Compassion, Expertise and Resilience’

Kristie L. Kahl, vice president of oncology content at MJH Life Sciences, the parent company of CURE Media Group, reflected on the nominations that were received for this year’s Extraordinary Healer® award and the appreciation that shone through them all.

“Each of you in this room encompasses a composition of compassion, expertise and resilience,” she said during the ceremony. “We are so proud to have the unique opportunity to recognize our oncology nurses. This was apparent to me how adored all of you are. … It is through these essays that a picture is painted of how you go above and beyond the call of duty, forging deep connections with patients, forging trust and understanding.”

Lynn Hall, Senior Director of Patient Experience in the Oncology Patient Engagement Customer Solutions Organization at Johnson & Johnson, noted how the role oncology nurses play in patient care is engrained in the company’s mission.

“We know it takes nurses to make health care work and support for our nurses improves healthcare for all,” Hall said during the event.

She also looked back at her own experience with cancer and how the nurses she encountered before she underwent surgery gave her the confidence she needed during a scary time.

“I have these incredible nurses around me who really lightened my fear and helped me feel confident that I would beat my cancer,” she added.

Also during the event, Robert M. Goldsmith, senior vice president of corporate development at MJH Life Sciences, recognized the commitment oncology nurses have in the caring of patients with cancer.

“To be committed to oncology nursing and ultimately to give care to patients with cancer and the cancer community worldwide is a mission that our company stands behind and something that we are very excited about,” he said. “We’re just so thrilled to be here with all of you to celebrate and give back to our wonderful oncology nurses. We can’t thank you enough for what you do each and every day of caring for cancer patients. So thank you. You are all truly heroes, and we appreciate all that you do.”

Nominations are now open for the 2025 CURE Extraordinary Healer award.

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