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Oncology nurses keep the flame of hope alive for survivors.

It is mid-June as I write this editorial, and I have attended two survivor celebrations. One was hosted by a National Cancer Institute--designated comprehensive cancer center for a group of 350 and the other by a city hospital cancer program for about 75 survivors. The celebrations differed in size, length, and resources, but the joy and hope of the survivors was the same.

There were heartfelt greetings between staff and survivors who had not seen each other in awhile. Some reunions were among survivors who had not seen each other since the end of treatment. One survivor called the celebration his "annual homecoming." Another survivor told me of an upcoming celebration she was planning to mark the fifth anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis. She will be inviting family, friends, and neighbors to a backyard cookout, and she was collecting cancer prevention and early detection materials to hand out as her guests leave. Seeing survivors who have regained their health and resumed their roles with spouses, children, siblings, and friends gave hope to survivors still in treatment and a renewed purpose to the staff dedicated to helping them through the journey of cancer treatment.

The theme of this month's issue is cancer vaccine therapies. Several preventive vaccines are in use that protect against the viral infections that can lead to cancer. Prior to April, therapeutic cancer vaccines were investigational. With the approval of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine, Provenge[R](Dendreon), for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer, a new era of immune-based cancer treatments has begun.

Contributing Editor Heather McCreery, RN, MBA, OCN[R], CCRC, describes the work of two nurses in clinical research settings for cancer vaccine development. Nora Katurakes, RN, MSN, OCN[R], shares insights into the issues of vaccination to prevent cervical cancer and penile warts in a minority community. We invite you to weigh in with your opinions about mandatory vaccine use online at www .onsconnect.org.

Both survivor celebrations closed with rituals--candles lit and pen lights activated--to symbolize hope. Each day brings new developments in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Each development adds to survivors' hope that their children may live in a world where cancer has been eliminated and if their cancer returns, it can be eradicated. Oncology nurses will keep that flame or light of hope alive.

[By Debra M. Wujcik, RN, PhD, AOCN[R], Editor]

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Author:Wujcik, Debra M.
Publication:ONS Connect
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2010
Words:396
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