This is the fourth year that CURE magazine has presented an oncology nurse with an Extraordinary Healer Award, which recognizes nurses who demonstrate extraordinary compassion, understanding, and expertise in their field. The magazine received approximately 200 essays from across the United States and even one from as far away as Kenya, all nominating oncology nurses who went above and beyond the expectations of patients, survivors, caregivers, or colleagues.
The first finalist was Jackie Broadway-Duran, MSN, FNP-BC, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Her patient, Catherine Gillmore, discussed how Jackie was always accommodating and sensitive to her needs. Catherine resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, and would fly to Houston for her treatments. Jackie always worked around Catherine’s schedule and was even able to get her an appointment for an infusion in Boston the day after Thanksgiving so that Catherine did not have to fly back to Houston, which would have been difficult to explain to her family, as Catherine had opted not to inform her extended family of her diagnosis. Catherine noted that while some may disapprove of her keeping her cancer a secret, Jackie never judged her for this decision.
The second finalist was Annette Graham, NP, AOCNP, Virgina Cancer Institute, Richmond, Virginia, who was nominated by Greg Frazee. Greg noted being an exceptionally anxious patient. He was especially fearful of having to undergo a bone marrow biopsy, but Annette put him at ease, and he told the audience “the biopsy with Annette was a cinch.” Greg would spend a great deal of time at the hospital because stem cell transplantation was a part of his treatment. One day Annette asked Greg, “Did you cry yet?” He replied that he did not and that grown men don’t cry. She encouraged him to cry, telling him “it would be good for you.” Annette also provided him with a comfort gift, which turned out to be a teddy bear. Greg was not sure what to make of it and was skeptical of the gift at first, but he ended up proudly taking it to all of his treatments and it has served to provide him with comfort.
The third finalist, and winner of the Extraordinary Healer Award, was Dorothy Wahrman, RN, OCN, Nebraska Cancer Specialists,Omaha, Nebraska, who was nominated by Valerie Bosselman, the mother of one of the patients she treated. Valerie’s daughter, Megan, had received a diagnosis of adrenal cortical carcinoma, and after an initially successful treatment, had a relapse and eventually succumbed to the disease. In the essay, Valerie described Dorothy as "the most remarkable woman," whose "ability to sense the every need of patient and family was the most beautiful and natural part of her character." Dorothy was indeed very much in tune with her patients and their needs. She had managed to orchestrate a night with Justin Timberlake for Megan, which had been something Megan had always dreamed of. She also instinctively knew when Megan’s final hours would be and visited her that day in hospice, cradling her in her arms as though she were her own child.
Dorothy received her award in front of hundreds of her peers and the Honorary Mistress of Ceremonies, actress, singer, and 25-year breast cancer survivor, Ann Jillian, who had recounted her own cancer journey. She, too, had a wonderful experience with her oncology nurse, who always treated her with patience and kindness. Ann told the audience, “you are special to me,” and the event concluded with Ann treating the audience to “Wind Beneath My Wings,” a song she had initially performed for US troops on Christmas in Beirut in 1983.
A Word from the Sponsor
The event was sponsored by Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. "The winner's and finalists' essays provide just a small window into the remarkable work that oncology nurses do every day to support cancer patients and their families, from helping to guide their medical treatment journey to providing unique educational and emotional support during a tremendously challenging time," said Robert Bazemore, president, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., in a press statement.
CURE magazine will make a Podcast of all three essayists reading their nominations available at the CURE Website starting June 16th, 2010. At the Website, visitors can also find more information on submitting nominations for next year’s Extraordinary Healer Award.