In 1973, 20 oncology nurses met after the First National Cancer Nursing Conference in a cramped hotel room in Chicago to discuss the idea of an organization specifically for cancer nurses. Their goal was to develop a national network for oncology nurses that would enable them to communicate and share information. Throughout 1974, these 20 nurses spoke to colleagues and friends about the concept, distributed newsletters, and continued to identify nurses who were interested in the network. By the end of 1974, their number had grown to 71.
During the summer of 1975, ONS was incorporated. The new officers, who had been elected at the ASCO/AACR meeting that spring, put out the call for charter members. By September 1975, 85 nurses had sent in their membership applications, and by the beginning of October there were 238 members.
The officers originally had selected October 1, 1975, as the cutoff for charter membership, and so the first list of charter members was drawn up by then-treasurer Connie Yarbro. Excited by their success, they met again and decided to extend charter membership until January 1976. The second list of charter members was drawn up, and 488 nurses' names appeared as ONS's official charter membership list.
Today that initial group of 488 dedicated individuals has grown to more than 39,000 oncology nurses who have found their professional home with ONS.
Reporting by Denise M. Visconti