From the patients – responses from our #ThankANurse campaign

PicMonkey Collage-ONMI stumbled across this quote a couple of weeks ago as I was reading about Oncology Nursing Month, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since:

“When you’re a nurse you know that every day you will touch a life, or a life will touch yours.” (Author unknown)

The author says that every day, a nurse will touch a life—that’s 365 lives a year. Frankly though, I think the author was being modest.

All this month as part of our #ThankANurse campaign, we asked our followers for stories, moments and instances where they were thankful for the nurses in their lives, and we were touched at reading the heartfelt words of gratitude and admiration that patients had to say about their nurses.  More than that, we were astounded by the number of people who remarked on the powerful effect that their nurses had upon them and their treatment.

We decided to take a few of these stories, and share them with all of you; because whether you’re a nurse or a patient it’s always important to see how much a person’s actions can touch someone else’s life:

“There wasn’t a visit that went by without a kind word, smile, pillow or two and a warm blanket to let me know they were here to help me all the way. Even when at home, the calls would come to find out how I was doing—words like, ‘Just call to see if you need anything, how you’re doing.’” – Joan M.

Terri C. and her sister

Terri C. and her sister

“My sister, a nurse, has been my unwavering support this past year in treatments and healing during my second breast cancer diagnosis.” – Terri C.

“There was one nurse that stands out the most, the one who took the time to talk with me despite her own painful circumstances. Unbeknownst to me her own sister was dealing with cancer too. This nurse took the time to give me moral support and encouragement, offering her assistance, her time while walking daily on their own battle. Even after her own sisters death, I received yet another card of encouragement and loving words telling me she was available if I needed to talk, and also offered her prayers and thoughts. My heart was changed that day and to this day my cancer is not a personal journey any more, but a journey to use to reach out and touch others’ lives; to encourage and support others as they walk roads of unknowness. This is medicine to us all, giving and receiving wrapped up in one.”

Marie C. graduating from chemo with 2 of her favorite nurses

Marie C. graduating from chemo with 2 of her favorite nurses

“My nurses, Tammy and Susan, were so supportive in seeing me through my chemo treatments for breast cancer. They helped me every step of the way, from explaining exactly what would happen to prepare me (even though Tammy was embarrassed to realize after the fact that she forgot to warn me that “Red Devil” chemo could color my urine – we laughed about that at my second treatment), to being there during treatments, to checking up on me between treatments and still following me in my survivorship. Nobody wants to spend hours having chemo in an infusion room, but our motto was that as long as you had to be there, you might as well have some laughs – and we did.” – Marie C.

“We never know where our lives will take us, or who we will be talking with, but the one thing we can know is that we can leave this world a richer place by remembering we were never alone; when we share ourselves, a hug, a kind word or two, our time and our lives with another! Thank you to all my wonderful nurses!”

“Huntington Hospital Cancer Center of Pasadena, CA Nurse Navigator Saskia De Koomen showed up while I was drugged in the hospital following my radical hysterectomy for Stage 4 uterine cancer. She kept showing up and calling me until I figured out that she was stalking me to help me get through the worst times of my life. Not only was she there at every stage and critical time, she assembled a team of specialists: “appearance”, diet/nutrition, symptoms management, mindfulness, yoga. Even input as to choosing a Radiation Oncologist. Although I am currently NED, I continue to provide Saskia with copies of all of my medical updates from every imaginable medical discipline (who knew I would have so many specialists!). She continues to be a trusted and valuable member of my “survival team” as I continue this journey.” – Denise D.

To all the angels out there working in hospitals, CSC and your patients offer you our sincerest thanks during this Oncology Nursing Month. Thank you for making sure that no one experiences cancer alone.

Posted in Inspirational Stories | Leave a comment

How learning about your diagnosis can help you

Today’s blog post is written by Marni Amsellem, PhD. Marni is a research consultant for the Cancer Support Community. 

Donna, Melanoma Warrior Photograph by Ed Cunicelli

Donna, Melanoma Warrior
Photograph by Ed Cunicelli

With the month of May coming to an end, it means for many of us a lot more outdoor time in the months ahead, and doing what we can to stay healthy and safe. And for good reason, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer affects many Americans. In 2014, there were more than 76,000 new melanoma diagnoses in the U.S. alone, and melanoma accounts for less than 2% of new skin cancer diagnoses each year.

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) provides a number of resources and support services for those affected by skin cancer. One of these resources is our Frankly Speaking About Cancer workshops, which are offered through CSC’s Affiliate Network . Over the past several years, hundreds of people affected by skin cancer, most living with a metastatic melanoma, have connected with each other while learning about social and emotional issues commonly faced by those with cancer, current and emerging treatments and ways to improve communication with one’s health care team. Peoples’ response to the workshops has been overwhelmingly encouraging; nearly all (96.3%) would recommend attending a workshop to others affected by skin cancer.

We also hear how the workshops are providing much-needed information. Many people participating in a workshop have reported significant gains in knowledge. Most (83.8%) indicated they knew more about the topics addressed after attending a workshop, compared to 26.9% who reported a high level of knowledge before attending (a gain of 56.9 percentage points). Another big benefit of participating in a workshop is that the majority of people indicate feeling more confident in talking with their health care team about their treatment preferences. This is particularly striking given that the majority (71.7%) of attendees were not newly diagnosed, which speaks to the fact that regardless of where people are in their experience, information and support can be helpful.

In addition to workshops, CSC offers a number of ways for you to learn more about melanoma, emerging treatment options for metastatic melanoma, tools to help cope with a melanoma diagnosis and ways to connect with others.

Learn more about melanoma and other types of cancers by visiting our website.

Do you have tips or resources you would recommend to others impacted by a skin cancer diagnosis? Share with us in the comment below, or weigh in on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in Cancer Education | Leave a comment

A very Modern (Family) cancer campaign

SV FlagWhat happens when you combine Hollywood, social media, and cancer awareness? The Ready. Raise. Rise. campaign.

This new campaign by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eric Stonestreet of ABC’s Modern Family  gives people the opportunity to “Raise your flag” in support of someone they know who is affected by cancer. In thirty seconds, anyone can create a virtual flag with the name of the person they support and share it on the Ready. Raise. Rise. page, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to let them know they’re not alone.

But that’s not the best part.

The campaign isn’t just providing another way to show the heroes in your life that you care; it’s giving away thousands of dollars to the cancer advocacy groups with the most flags raised in their names. With your help, the Cancer Support Community can be one of those organizations. With one campaign that shows support for loved ones, spreads awareness of immunotherapy and can help CSC provide support, education and hope to people touched by cancer, we have just one more question— who wouldn’t participate?

To salute your loved ones, just visit and click “Create your Flag.” Then choose a background, a phrase, a loved one to honor and Cancer Support Community as your cancer advocacy group, and voila! Your masterpiece is ready to be shared with the world in places that will inspire even more people to join the campaign.

Ready. Raise. Rise. will be happening all summer long, so take this time to spread the word to all of your friends and family about the easiest way to make a difference in cancer research. There is no limit to how many flags you can create! We’ve got the idea. We’ve got the star power. We just need you.

Who do you raise your flag for? Tell us about your dedication in the comments below!

Posted in Cancer Advocacy | Leave a comment

The 3 C’s of oncology nursing: care, compassion, commitment

Today’s blog is by Michele R. McCorkle, RN, MSN. Michele is the Executive Director of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). For more about Michele, please see her bio below. This is the second installment of our #ThankaNurse campaign in honor of Oncology Nursing Month. Do you have a nurse to thank? Click here to upload a tribute to your favorite nurse.

McCorkle Picture

Oncology nurses are on the front lines of patient care providing support and comfort along the cancer journey. According to the Gallup Poll, nurses are the most trusted profession and we would not attain this status without care, compassion and commitment–the theme of the 2015 Oncology Nursing Month (ONM).

In honor of ONM, I would like to highlight some of ONS’s policy efforts impacting the work of the oncology nurse and the patients we serve.

With a strong presence on Capitol Hill, ONS promotes our signature legislation, the Improving Cancer Education and Treatment Act, designed to provide dedicated, reimbursed time for an oncology nurse to provide symptom management education to patients, much like diabetic educators do. This bi-partisan legislation has support from Congress and federal regulatory agencies for its emphasis on prevention.

ONS also champions evidence-based research and federal investment in science and clinical training. Championing the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), oncology nurses are raising awareness for advances in palliative care, pain management and end-of-life treatment. These practical guidelines inform both the patient and the practitioner on how best to manage the treatment and care.

ONS accomplishes many of these goals by working in coalitions to help educate decision-makers. Through a national, grassroots network, ONS continues to reach elected-officials at the local, state, and federal levels, providing both empirical data and real life stories on what patients with cancer go through once diagnosed.

Personally, oncology nursing has been a passion of mine since the mid-1980′s. As a nursing student, I was exposed to many clinical opportunities, but none as moving to me as the first evening working on the oncology unit. An elderly woman just died as I walked on the unit to begin my shift as a nurses’ aid. I was moved by the care, compassion and commitment demonstrated by all of the nurses and ancillary staff that evening. My career in oncology began that evening and has been very rewarding.

About Michele
Michele R. McCorkle, RN, MSN, is the Executive Director of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).  With more than 27 years of oncology nursing experience and 20 years in association management, Michele has executive oversight of the membership association, which encompasses education, research, publications, membership and component relations, integrated marketing communications, and health policy. During her 20 years at ONS, she has led a number of strategic efforts at ONS, including the development and leadership of Oncology Education Services, Inc., ONS’ for-profit subsidiary (1996-2005); the development of the ONS strategic plan, and partnerships.

Prior to joining the ONS staff, Michele was Patient Care Manager, Staff Development Instructor, and Clinical Nurse at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (now part of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC).  She received both her BSN and MSN from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing.  Michele can be reached at 412-859-6266 or

Posted in CSC Events | Leave a comment

Oncology Nursing: 40 Years and Going Strong

Today’s blog is by Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN, Chief Executive Officer of the Oncology Nursing Society. For more about Brenda, please see her bio below. This is the first installment of our #ThankaNurse campaign in honor of Oncology Nursing Month. Do you have a nurse to thank? Click here to upload a tribute to your favorite nurse. 

Nevidjon Picture

In 1993, May 6-12 were designated the permanent dates for celebrating National Nurses Week.  May 12 is the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday and typically marks the conclusion of the celebration in the workplace. In oncology nursing, we celebrate our specialty throughout May beginning with recognition at the annual Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress. Sometimes the celebration begins in late April as it did this year at the 40th Annual ONS Congress.

Our 40th anniversary has provided an opportunity to acknowledge our past and to look to our future. The specialty of oncology nursing was in its infancy 40 years ago.  A small group of nurses formed ONS which I believe officially established the identity of an oncology nurse.  Although I had been caring for patients with cancer beginning in 1972, including working on a bone marrow transplant service in Basel Switzerland, I did not call myself an oncology nurse or cancer nurse.   The first time I identified myself as an oncology nurse was when I read about the formation of ONS. Today, although I have been in executive positions and away from clinical settings for years, I identify as an oncology nurse; it is my foundation.  In 40 years, ONS has grown from that small founding group to more than 37,000 members.

Although cancer care has changed greatly in 40 years, many qualities of oncology nurses have endured; compassion, commitment, curiosity, courage. Oncology nurses are the health professionals who spend the most time with patients and families and are committed to caring, teaching, advocating, and making a difference in their lives.  Making a difference is what most oncology nurses will tell you is one of the rewards of their work even during stressful and sad times.

When I talk with colleagues, who like me, have been a nurse for many years, we tell the stories of what surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy were like in our day and the advances we have seen.  New treatment modalities and supportive therapies continue to challenge oncology nurses to be current with scientific breakthroughs and to be life-long learners. Subspecialties and new roles have expanded the picture of an oncology nurse to a mosaic of choices. What unites us is our passion for what we do whether that is direct care, educating the next generation, creating healthy work environments for staff, or building the science of our specialty.

As oncology nurses celebrate our specialty throughout May, we can be proud of the legacy we have created in our first 40 years.  The newer oncology nurses that I met at the ONS Congress this year are our future and I know our specialty is in good hands.

About Brenda
Brenda Marion Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), a professional association of more than 35,000 members committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. She has had an extraordinary nursing career of leadership in service and education.   Immediately prior to her position at ONS, she was a professor at Duke University School of Nursing and taught graduate students in nursing and healthcare leadership programs.  After two decades in oncology clinical and administrative settings, she transitioned to health care executive practice, culminating with her being the first nurse and the first women to be chief operating officer of Duke University Hospital

Through diverse clinical and administrative experiences in Canada, Switzerland and the United States, she has devoted her energy to bridging practice settings and academic environments to advance patient care, creating innovative work environments, promoting scholarship in practitioners, and developing leaders.  She also has helped develop professional nursing organizations at the local, national, and international levels and has made lasting contributions to the Oncology Nursing Society and organizations.  She consults with organizations related to work culture, team building, and leadership development.  She is a graduate of the Johnson & Johnson – Wharton Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives, was in the inaugural class of the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Program and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

She has contributed extensively to the nursing literature and is regarded as a mentor for nurses to develop their power and voice through publication.  Her diverse contributions include two volumes of oncology nurses’ narratives as well as books, articles and chapters on oncology topics, and articles and book chapters on administrative topics.


Posted in CSC Events, Inspirational Stories | Leave a comment