‘The Shining Light for All Patients With Cancer’

My essay is about Yael Derman, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC CPHON, a pediatric oncology nurse who works at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. I am a retired special education teacher/teacher. My practice included homeschooling/tutoring/remediation for students with learning disabilities. It is from the perspective of a counselor and friend that I nominate Yael as an outstanding nurse healer.

Before retiring, I was approached by a colleague to tutor her teen with cancer. At the time, there was very little information about an individualized educational plan for children whose neurocognitive problems were affected by cancer and its treatments. I only knew one person I could turn to as a consultant: Yael.

Yael is a two-time cancer survivor. Her first diagnosis was at age four and again at age ten. Twenty years ago, she was told by her nurse practitioner that her cancer has recurred and that the prognosis is bleak without a bone marrow transplant. Her 10-year response to this devastating news was, “It’s not fair. When I grow up, I’ll have to fix this.” True to her promise, Yael’s cancer was “cured.” Every year, Yael undergoes tests to make sure the cancer hasn’t recurred.

Yael’s personal knowledge and experience qualifies as my most credible advisor. She has been a highly valued and respected resource as she has the essential educational and experiential background, academic, clinical and personal. She is a very valuable asset to me, her patients, their families and members of the community.

As a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, she assists with treatment, protocols and, ultimately, those who depend on her expertise and compassion. Her knowledge of caring for children with cancer and blood disorders, side effects and long-term neurocognitive problems is invaluable. Her recommendations to parents on how to keep her young patients connected to the school and learning environment are extremely reassuring.

Yael has been chosen to make a video on You Tube during Nurses Week 2020 in honor of all nurses. The purpose of this video explains why you become a nurse. An integral part of the video reveals her personal story and why she has supported childhood cancer all her life. In the video, she describes the day she found out her cancer had returned. “On that day, the nurses chose me,” Yael said.

Glowing testimonials from her patients and their families show how she cares, loving, and compassionately at helping them, all of which are well-deserved accolades. She is described as their cheerleader, mentor and a shoulder to lean on. Another important factor is that it gives hope.

Yael is the shining light for all cancer patients she cares for and gives strength. Her ultimate value is the work she does as a healer and advocate for childhood cancer. She is an inspiration to me, her patients and all of them lucky enough to have her in their lives.

Editor’s Note: This is an essay submitted by Anne Wold for the Extraordinary Healer Award 2021. Click here to read more about CURE®’s Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing event on April 30, 2021.

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