The Oncology Nursing Society will host its 40th Annual Congress award ceremony to distinguish oncology nurses for their work supporting cancer patients. The event will also feature actress Valerie Harper, who will be presenting the keynote speech at the event. Known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern in “Rhoda” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” two popular 1970s sitcoms, Harper is now a terminal cancer patient.
The Oncology Nursing Society’s 40th Annual Congress is taking place on April 23 in Orlando, Florida and Harper will share her story, highlighting the importance of oncology nurses in helping her deal with the disease. The actress was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, a year after being nominated for a Tony Award. Since the disease was caught early, she lived free of cancer for four years. However, in 2013, not only did her cancer come back, but it also spread to the meninges and surrounding membranes of her brain.
“We are thrilled that Valerie Harper will join us in celebrating the efforts of oncology nurses around the world,” said Mike Hennessy Jr., the president of CURE Media Group, which is helping the society organize the event. “Valerie’s compassion and interminable spirit will be inspirational for all attending the conference, as will the amazing efforts of the nurses who dedicate their lives to helping others overcome this terrible disease.”
Harper is dedicated to advocating for cancer and research funding as she continues to undergo targeted therapy. At the event, she will also present awards to three distinguished oncology nurses for their outstanding service. Laura Vasquez of Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, Beverly Moser of Rose Quarter Compass Oncology in Portland, Ore., and Elmeria Teffeteller of The University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institut will be honored with the 2015 Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing.
Valerie Harper was also recently part of a group of well-known people that gathered together to raise awareness and funds to support the battle against lung cancer in women. In addition to Harper, the Emmy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel, Grammy-nominated country music star Kellie Pickler and Mackena Bell teamed up to help form Lung Force at long with the American Lung Association, and launched an online fundraising team where people can enter, register and fundraise money against lung cancer.
Given the obstacles associated with oncology nursing, the society and CURE magazine have partnered to recognize excellence in the field. “In the 2015 competition, we heard from patients, their families and caregivers about a special oncology nurse from the U.S. or abroad who went above and beyond to help each of them navigate the roller coaster ride that is cancer,” added Hennessy.
Oncology nurses need to possess specialized medical knowledge, as well as provide support to both patients and their families, according to Hennessy. In order to do so, oncology nurses are required to combine both education and knowledge with care and patient advocacy. The Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing has nominated over 1,000 nurses since its foundation in 2007.