Learn Well Contest Winners

Oncology Nurse Winners

Patient Resource acknowledges those oncology nurses whose dedication and compassion have inspired and empowered cancer patients on their journey. It’s our way of recognizing their invaluable contributions to patients and their families. Congratulations to all of our past winners!


Michelle Zancan, RN, BSN
As a child, Michelle watched oncology nurses help her mother battle breast cancer and dreamed about one day helping patients, too. Her dream came true in 1996, when she started her career at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She later worked on clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health until she began to miss working with patients. “I consider my work at the bedside to be my most notable venture,” she said. “Sharing in patients’ emotional and physical journeys is absolutely where I can make the biggest impact in their lives and mine.” Michelle has now landed at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Md., where she works as a staff nurse on the inpatient oncology/hospice care unit.


Donna Panarello, RN
A nurse for 27 years, Donna started her career in pediatric critical care at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York. Three years ago, she became an oncology nurse at the Stony Brook Cancer Center. Donna is currently working on continuing her education and is motivated by her patients every day. She wants her patients to feel like they’re in good hands when they’re in her care, and she understands that recognizing the emotional toll that cancer takes on them is just as important as treating their physical effects. “My patients give me so much more than I could ever give them,” she said. “I’m in awe of these brave people.”


Jan Watkins, MS, RN, OCN, CHPN
A nurse since 1974, Jan started her career in oncology at Liberty Hospital in Liberty, Mo., in 1985 and has grown a small oncology program into a regional cancer center. She was also instrumental in starting the hospital's Palliative Care Program as well as the outpatient cancer center and cancer registry. Now serving as the cancer center manager overseeing a staff of 11, she said her patients continue to inspire her. "It has been an honor to walk beside our patients and families as they travel this pathway,” she said. “I witness hope, courage and strength every day from this amazing group of people.” She was nominated for her dedication and devotion to her patients as well as the pride she takes in her work.


Marybeth Singer, MS, ANP-BC, AOCN, ACHPN
Over 35 years of nursing, Singer has held a variety of positions, but the oncology nurse practitioner and patient program manager said that her service at the Cancer Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston is especially fulfilling. "I have the greatest job in the world,” she said. “I’m able to follow patients over time, providing continuity of care, making an impact on how they cope and adapt to the changes in their life. It's about helping them reintegrate into life despite having to endure the stress of treatment and the challenge of survivorship." Singer has developed a special class at Tufts to prepare patients for chemotherapy as well as an acupuncture and massage program to ease side effects, and she has co-authored numerous nursing publications. She was nominated for excellence in patient education and for mentoring other oncology nurses in evidence-based practice.


Cindy Davis, RN
As a breast cancer survivor herself, Cindy Davis, RN, focuses on helping her patients truly understand their cancer experience. "I probably have a little more understanding of what they're going through," she said. Working as a clinic nurse at the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, she seeks to truly involve the patient's family as well in her teaching efforts to really help them feel like they're part of the solution. With more than 15 years of nursing experience, her patients have recognized her for her outstanding communication, patience and kindness.


Mary Beth Mardjetko, RN, MN
An oncology nurse for 35 years, Mary Beth is the administrative director at Oncology Specialists, S.C., in Park Ridge, Ill. Previously serving as a manager of inpatient oncology at the University of Chicago and Lutheran General Hospital, she moved to the outpatient setting in 2001 and now oversees the daily operations in the practice and directly supervises the nurses and pharmacy staff. “I am privileged to work with wonderful people who are always looking for ways to help the people we serve,” she said. “One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is supporting and helping staff do their jobs better. Bringing one of their ideas for better care to our practice is wonderful.”


Delma Armstrong, RN, BSN, OCN
With more than three decades of nursing experience, Delma serves as a nurse navigator at the University of North Carolina Breast Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. After nine years of coordinating patient care and serving as an educator, her patients have recognized her for her outstanding teaching abilities and always taking the time to ensure each patient truly understands their cancer journey. Delma has worked at UNC for 20 years - spending the past nine in the breast center - and has held numerous offices in state and national nursing organizations. She most recently received a Nursing Recognition Award, presented by the UNC medical staff in 2011, for her contributions to patient care, teaching and research.


Bonnie Trudeau, RN, BS
Bonnie Trudeau is a beloved oncology nurse navigator at Samaritan Health System in Watertown, N.Y., and herself a breast cancer survivor. A veteran nurse of 35 years, Bonnie has specialized in oncology since 2006, when she was asked to establish the Patient Navigator program. Her passion for her job is inspirational to others, and she is an exceptional resource for both patients and medical staff. Bonnie is particularly gifted in her ability to communicate effectively with patients and families.


Melodi Kernkamp, RN
For the past 34 years, Melodi Kernkamp has provided outstanding and compassionate nursing care for patients at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington. Beginning in 2005, her focus narrowed to assisting and educating oncology patients during their chemotherapy treatment or stem cell collection at the Deaconess Ambulatory Infusion Center. Melodi’s patients often commend her for her caring and considerate attitude, how she helps them relax during their treatment, which makes their treatment go smoother – and for celebrating their special milestones.


Amber White, LPN
Amber White has proudly worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Health Administration for her entire career – beginning in 1994. For the past five years, she has served oncology patients with compassionate and encouraging personal attention at the VA Southern Nevada Health Care System in Las Vegas. Amber is noted for her expertise in assisting patients as they navigate the complexities of the VA health system. She is also an outstanding mentor of new nursing staff members.


Erica Garcia-Frausto, MPA, MSN, RN, CPNP, CPON
Erica Garcia-Frausto has spent the past 17 years lovingly caring for pediatric cancer patients and their families. As a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, she supervises her leukemia and lymphoma patients’ treatment in the clinic, and addresses their medical questions at any time. Additionally, her ability to speak Spanish fluently provides great assistance. She also directs a chapter of Flashes of Hope – a program that professionally photographs pediatric oncology patients.


Margaret Kane, RN, OCN
Margaret (Peggy) Kane serves her patients as an Oncology Nurse Navigator at the Keiser Permanente Oncology Clinic in Largo, Maryland. Her outstanding nursing career began 31 years ago, with 27 years in oncology. She is a graduate of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Leadership Development Institute. Peggy’s patients particularly appreciate her compassionate leadership as a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support group facilitator, and she was named the LLS National Capital Hematology /Oncology Nurse of the Year in 2005.


Tu Kersavage, RN
Tu Kersavage (on right) is a compassionate and caring Nurse Coordinator at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center affiliated with the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. She is a highly valued member of the treatment team led by Leonard Sender, MD and works with adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer. A 15-year veteran, Tu is committed to her patients’ care through patient and family education, coordinating proper treatment and interacting with insurance companies when necessary to ensure appropriate authorization.


Ericka Ary, RN, OCN
As the Manager of Clinical Services for the Texas Oncology clinics at Midland and Odessa since 2004, Ericka Ary oversees a staff of 38 professionals. Her responsibilities include ensuring expert and efficient delivery of oncology services, education and recruitment of the nursing staff and providing clinical care when needed. She is praised most highly for her tireless dedication to oncology patients, her remarkable qualities as a mentor and friend, and the energy and devotion she has brought to her profession for nearly 20 years.


Deanna Deck, RN, BSN, OCN
Deanna Deck is a Senior RN at Virginia Specialists of Winchester Medical Center (70 miles northwest of Washington D.C.) where she has provided expert care as an infusion nurse for more than 20 years. Deanna is known for her encouragement of patients as she skillfully manages their chemotherapy treatment. Her patients appreciate the concern that she shows even after they complete their therapy. In addition to her clinical expertise, she mentors student nurses, pharmacy students and gifted high school students.


Reading Hospital Regional Cancer Center Protocol Office Nursing Staff
The (Clinical Trials) Protocol Office at Reading Hospital Regional Cancer Center was organized in 1978. With Patricia Weiser, RN, CCRP as Nurse Manager, this staff of Aracelis Alvarez, RN, BSN, Marilyn Brennan, RN, OCN, CCRP, Elizabeth Gatsch, RN, OCN, CCRP and Christine Wolfe, RN, CCRP, has more than 75 years of combined cancer research treatment experience. Congratulations to these outstanding nurses who provide a wealth of information by researching oncology clinical treatment trials available, educating their patients, and coordinating their care and schedules. They also carefully submit the accumulated data to the study sponsors.


Nora Walsh, RN
Nora Walsh has provided outstanding care as an oncology nurse for more than 25 years. She is currently the lead triage nurse for Monterey Bay Oncology in Monterey, California, where she responds to as many as 70 incoming calls each day – and sensitively treats each patient individually. Nora is also a specialist in pain management and palliative care. She is known as a thoughtful mentor, a professional with a warm sense of humor and a “quintessential” oncology nurse.


Janine Feliciano, RN, BSN, OCN
Janine Feliciano has worked as an oncology nurse for 17 years. Since 2000, she has served as a clinical specialist in the outpatient infusion center at Kaiser Permanente's Cumberland Medical Center in Atlanta. In addition to providing excellent care, she is committed to providing extensive patient education regarding medications and disease. Janine's professionalism, words of encouragement and positive attitude draws praise from her patients. Her constant smile brings reassurance and hope to all those in contact with her.


Bonnie Bish
Bonnie Bish is a devoted oncology manager at the Grove City Medical Center Cancer Care clinic, which is located 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bonnie works closely with patients who come to the center to receive their chemotherapy or blood transfusions. With more than 20 years of experience in oncology at Grove City Medical Center, patients have come to rely on her support and knowledge. They report that she consistently goes above and beyond their expectations.


Ada Jo Luttrell, RN, BSN, OCN
Ada Jo Luttrell has worked with oncology patients for more than 20 years and provides outstanding bedside care at Johnson City Medical Center. Located in northeastern Tennessee, Ada Jo’s influence has impacted oncology patients throughout West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee. She also teaches Oncology Nursing Society classes and is credited with continually improving patient care. Her fellow staff members and students routinely rely on her extensive knowledge of clinical oncology resources for patients, the public, caregivers and families.


Delma Armstrong, RN, BSN, OCN
Delma Armstrong is an Oncology Certified Nurse and Nurse Navigator in the Hematology-Oncology Outpatient Clinic at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill. She has served as a resource for the development of a national Colon Cancer Patient Navigator Program and has written and published patient educational materials. Delma’s dedication to her patients is constant, and they appreciate her availability via email and pager as she addresses their concerns and questions in a timely and professional manner.


Mary Prishtina, RN, OCN, CPBN-IC
Mary Prishtina is an experienced oncology nurse and a certified Breast Cancer Patient Navigator at the ValleyCare Health System in Pleasanton, California. She oversees the ValleyCare Health Library and Ryan Comer Cancer Resource Center. Utilizing the outstanding resources available and her specialized nursing skills, Mary guides patients through screening, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. She also organizes classes and support groups for patients and families. Mary is widely recognized for being a dedicated advocate and support for patients.


Jackie Hay, RN
Jackie Hay is a dedicated nurse and is noted for her outstanding skill in supporting those who are battling cancer. She has been referred to as a “Trojan Horse” when it comes to patient advocacy, which she does tirelessly. She is also praised for her commitment to education and for helping patients and their families, as they look for comfort and answers. Jackie also provides helpful resources as her patients look for ways to participate in taking action against their disease.


Catherine Marinak, ARNP, MSN, AOCN
Catherine (Cathy), Marinak is an Oncology Care Specialist at Jupiter Medical Center’s Foshay Cancer Center in Jupiter, Florida. She is much loved by her patients and known for being an outstanding educational resource, a wonderful listener and a caring and helpful guide through the maze of treatment. Cathy educates her patients for what to expect during surgery and treatment, and provides emotional support as well. She also coordinates genetic screening and testing programs, and risk assessment screening.


Leslie B. MacMurtry, RN, OCN
Leslie MacMurtry is a skilled oncology nurse with the Foundation Hematology/Oncology practice at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, NH, and is also the mother of a daughter who was diagnosed three years ago with Hodgkin Lymphoma. Her daughter said that through 12 rounds of chemo, 20 days of radiation and two stem cell transplants, her mom, "cared for me with compassion and experience that an exceptional nurse has and with the love and courage that an exceptional mother has.”


Georgeanne Fielden, RN, BSN, OCN
Georgeanne “Georgie” Fielden is a certified oncology nurse who has been with the Virginia Cancer Institute for 27 years. She has a vast knowledge of nursing and oncology. She is known for being resourceful, reliable, patient and always goes the extra mile for patients and co-workers. Her patients are comforted by Georgie's knowledge, kindness and compassion. She routinely seeks out new learning opportunities to enhance her knowledge and shares this with others. She is a mentor and example to all.


Nancy Larson, RN, BSN, OCN
Nancy Larson is a highly skilled gynecologic oncology nurse coordinator in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Washington University in St. Louis. She is highly respected by the oncology surgeons and her patients for her expertise, her kind demeanor and her ability to treat each patient as her number-one priority. Her patients say that she goes out of her way to help them cope with the effects of chemotherapy and always makes herself available to them to answer questions before, during and after treatment.


Marlene Balik, RN, BSN, CWCN
Marlene Balik routinely goes beyond the call of duty as a wound care nurse and the team leader of the award-winning Skin Management and Assessment Resource Team (SMART) at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago. A patient’s daughter related that Marlene was instrumental in her mother’s healing after her rectal cancer surgery. Marlene educated the family on the care of the mother’s colostomy and continued to advocate for her during her entire stay in the hospital.


Carol Blue, RN
Carol Blue is a true leader and educator in the field of oncology– most recently for the Diablo Valley Oncology/Hematology Group at the California Cancer & Research Institute in Pleasant Hill, California. She has been consistently dedicated and loyal, and always puts the patient first. As a mentor and educator for over 20 years, Carol trained nurses and medical interns, wrote patient care plans and advocated for a safe and caring environment for patients. Newly retired, congratulations for outstanding life-long service.


Amber Williams
As a medical oncology professional at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center (ECCC) in Huntington, West Virginia, Amber Williams is a bright spot in the day of each of her patients. Her smile is infectious and she has a natural way of keeping her patients in good spirits while they undergo treatment. In addition to outstanding patient care, Amber goes the extra mile in her commitment to her cancer patients, as she also participates in the ECCC’s Relay for Life fundraiser activities.


Janell Burk, RN
Janell Burk was recently recognized by one of her patients as “one of the most involved nurses I have ever seen.” Janell is the Breast Care Navigator at St. John’s Health System in Anderson, Indiana and is a guiding force of the St. John’s Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Survivor group. Her dedication to her patients is displayed not only in her knowledge and advocacy, but also as an advisor to the Hands and Heart group, she tirelessly attends the meetings to answers questions and calm members’ fears.


Betsy Rice, RNC, CBCN
As a Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator at St. Vincent’s SWIM Center for Cancer in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Betsy Rice is a teacher, a supporter and an advocate for breast cancer patients and their families. She is known for her commitment to walking with her patients from diagnosis through treatment, recovery and on to survivorship. Her patients appreciate her daily visits, her excellent communication skills and her ability to bring a smile to their faces each day during the difficult times in their journeys.


Sean Hunt, RN, BSN, OCN
Sean Hunt is a dedicated, caring oncology cancer nurse and a certified Nurse Navigator at Marian Cancer Center in Santa Maria, California. A cancer survivor himself, Sean was diagnosed with Acute Monocytic Leukemia (AML) in 1994 at the age of 24. His personal experience led him to nursing and he heads up the Cancer Survivorship Program at the Marian Cancer Center – providing survivors with valuable tools and insights they need to successfully manage their lives after a cancer diagnosis.


Michelle Ellis, RN, OCN, CBCN
Michelle Ellis is committed to sensitive personalized care for her patients as a Patient Navigator for the Hearst Cancer Resource Center in San Luis Obispo, California, and is referred to by many patients as their “Guiding Angel.” Her outstanding knowledge, tireless dedication and genuine warmth towards her patients are obvious to all that come in contact with her. Patients, families, co-workers and physician providers have all come to respect and depend on her for her input and expertise.


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