CURE Magazine Announces Winner of the 2013 Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing
Heartfelt essays from patients honor three extraordinary oncology nurses at a reception featuring Academy Award®-winning actress and caregiver, Marlee Matlin
CURE magazine announced the winner of the 2013 Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing during a special award ceremony at the Oncology Nursing Society’s (ONS) 38th Annual Congress. The award, now in its seventh year, was made possible through financial support from Amgen Oncology’s Breakaway from Cancer® and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. The winner was one of three nurse finalists, nominated through an essay contest, which asked cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the country to nominate oncology nurses who demonstrated exceptional compassion, expertise and commitment in their patients’ fight against cancer.
In front of more than 700 of her peers, Angela Krach, RN, BSN, from UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas, was given this year’s Extraordinary Healer Award. Krach’s extraordinary nursing ability was highlighted in an essay written by Anne Ott of Metairie, La., the wife of one of her patients. Ott’s husband, James, was diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2012 and required a stem cell transplant, forcing the couple to relocate their lives to Houston. While difficult, the move ultimately resulted in their meeting Krach, who became their very own extraordinary healer.
Ott described in detail not only the many ways that Krach cared for her husband through the physical side effects of the transplant and subsequent complications, but also how she went above and beyond when the couple decided to move forward with their plans to get married -- at the cancer center. The Otts had originally planned to marry when they returned home to Louisiana after the transplant, but by February of 2013 it was still unclear when that return home would come. As Ott describes in her essay “we have been through so much together this past year and no longer wanted to wait to say, ‘I do’.” It was then, as the wedding plans began, that Krach became instrumental in making the Ott’s dreams a reality. In addition to orchestrating a dress rehearsal days before the wedding, Krach assisted Mr. Ott in dressing him and helping him to be the “perfect groom.” As Ott describes, “She gave him some of his dignity back by ensuring he looked his best in front of family and friends…it is impossible to convey the magnitude of what her kindness meant to James and to me that day.”
“When we read these essays, there are just moments when the visual takes over and you can see the nurse taking part in the patient’s life in a real and tangible way,” says Kathy LaTour, cancer survivor and editor-at-large of CURE. “These two people love each other and cancer couldn’t change that. Because Angela decided to go above and beyond her ususal excellent care, they were able to have the wedding they had to previously postpone. It was simply a beautiful moment that was made a hundred times better because someone cared.”
This year’s Honorary Mistress of Ceremonies, Academy Award®-winning actress and caregiver, Marlee Matlin, spoke to the crowd about her family’s experiences with cancer as her father, mother and sister-in-law have all survived the disease. Matlin joined CURE and the event’s sponsors in thanking the oncology nurses in attendance for all that they do on behalf of their patients and then treated many of the attendees to one-on-one pictures and autographs.
In addition to Krach, two other pairs of nurse finalists and essayists were honored at the reception. Steven Cuzzilla, RN, ADN, from the Myelosuppression/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tenn., was nominated by Cassi Jones of Ingleside, Texas after Cuzzilla shared invaluable life advice with Jones as she went through a bone marrow transplant and was struggling with making decisions that affected her future. Cuzzilla, who had recently gone into nursing as a second career after losing his wife to metastatic melanoma, helped Jones to understand that she had to “take each day as it came.” As Jones wrote, “hearing Steven tell me to live out my life, do what I want, live life how it is supposed to be lived and enjoy it, that was what touched my heart. He had lived through those same fears and had those same thoughts, and he was ‘paying it forward.’”
Joining Krach and Cuzzilla was finalist Julie Hinson, RN, BSN, OCN, from the Gynecological Oncology department within Salem Cancer Institute at Salem Hospital, in Salem, Ore., nominated by Joyce Lowery, of Okinawa, Japan. Ten years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer and taking a leap of faith accepting a job in Okinawa, Japan, Lowery received news that her cancer had returned and she needed to return to the U.S. for treatment. It was at that point that Hinson stepped in and as Lowery described, “held my hand across the world and made everything seem possible.” In addition to helping Lowery complete the various documents needed in order to receive her travel orders during Typhoon Bolaven, Hinson was immediately at Lowery’s side when she did finally undergo surgery and treatment.
The winning essay will be featured in the summer 2013 issue of CURE, a free, quarterly magazine for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. All three of the finalist essays, photos and videos from the event, will be featured on www.curetoday.com beginning June 12, 2013. Additionally, the essays, photos and more will be available on CURE’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/curemagazine.
About CURE Magazine
CURE magazine is a free, award-winning publication from Dallas-based CURE Media Group. By combining science and humanity, CURE helps patients, survivors and caregivers navigate the cancer journey and understand their diagnosis and treatment, while providing tools to cope during and after cancer—ultimately helping them to live the life they aspire to live. Through the magazine and its associated website, an annual resource guide for the newly diagnosed, books, and a variety of resources aimed at enhancing communication between healthcare professionals and patients, CURE provides a wealth of resources for everyone on the cancer journey. For more information, visit www.curetoday.com. CURE Media Group is affiliated with McKesson Specialty Health, a division of McKesson Corporation.
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Alexandra Hurd, 214-367-3506