An essential act of well-being, the practice of storytelling creates a social connection that fosters a sense of community and mutual support in both the storyteller and listener. During the Second Annual ONS Storytelling session held at the 48th Annual ONS Congress® in April 2023, ONS members Sarah Lewis, MNE, RN, OCN®, palliative care nurse navigator at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland; Crystal Johnson, RN, BSN, OCN®, patient engagement liaison at Genmab who lives in Ohio; Susie Maloney, MS, APRN, AOCN®, AOCNS®, senior director of the Medical Affairs Company and principal of Oncology Nursing Advisors, LLC, in Dayton, OH; and Brenda Sandoval Tawakelevu, BSN, RN, OCN®, nursing professional development practitioner at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, engaged in the practice of storytelling around the theme of renewal in the context of oncology nursing. In this episode, the four oncology nurses share their tales with hosts Anne Ireland, DNP, RN, AOCN®, CENP, and Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS®, oncology clinical specialists at ONS.
Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0
Earn 0.5 contact hours of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by June 9, 2025. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
Learning outcome: The learner will report an increase in knowledge related to how nurses learn from one another through storytelling.
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Highlights From Today’s Episode
“An opportunity presented in spring 2021 to join the outpatient palliative care team as a registered nurse and after much careful consideration, I decided to take the leap. It seemed like it was a good time for a change, it seemed like a ‘dream’ position, and I knew I could always go back to bone marrow transplant if it didn't work out. I was surprised when so early after I switched positions my decision was affirmed, and my oncology nursing career reinvigorated.” Timestamp (TS) 04:06
“I learned early on in my oncology nursing career the power of education but will always appreciate the real-life lesson my patient taught me that day. It not only reinforced my decision to step into this brand-new role, but it also re-energized my practice and spirit to continue to perform this awesome work we oncology nurses have the privilege to do every day.” TS 06:32
“Being an oncology nurse, you inevitably become an extension of your patient’s family. Often, we are with our patients throughout every step of their oncologic journey: initial diagnosis, first chemo, symptom management, remission, relapse, progression and, ultimately end-of-life transition.” TS 07:24
“From the moment I cared for my first oncology patient, I knew I had found my calling, but being able to be a part of something and inspire others in a way that is able to reach far greater than the patients I've cared for throughout my career is the reason I continue to show up every single day. Trusting that what we do makes a difference, and we can continue to cultivate a culture of hope within a community that is forever linked together by an unimaginable bond that no one asked to share.” TS 10:44
“One thing I’ve learned when teaching in countries with different cultures is that it is important to respect the people and be educated on what their beliefs happen to be. It is not our job to ‘teach them our Western ways.’ This can be a challenge, however, particularly when some beliefs or practices are not evidence based.” TS 12:28
“When working in impoverished countries, it is important to consider what is within their achievable means. We would not teach about the latest therapies that are used in the United States if there is no chance of patients having access to such therapies or medications.” TS 15:28
Brenda Sandoval Tawakelevu
“Although I have many fond memories or patients and families that I have loved and cared for, I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you I’ve also had many doubts about oncology nursing during some of the very rough seasons of life that we all experience. I’ve been at the crossroads, and I have seen the two roads the poet Robert Frost has so beautifully written about. This hasn’t occurred just once but many times through the years as I have experienced the highs and the lows of ‘this road less traveled’ of oncology nursing.” TS 18:40
“Now, eight years have passed, and I keep going day by day in the wonderful field of oncology. The flames of passion continue to grow, and that passion has been shared with hundreds of students and nurses that have been in my path over the years. I invite each one of you to choose to connect, choose to find your own balance in the field of oncology nursing, choose to heal your own wounds life has left upon you, and most of all, continue to choose oncology nursing.” TS 26:26