ONS member Donna Clark, RN, BSN, OCN®, was a dedicated oncology nurse whose impact changed the lives of countless patients with cancer for more than 30 years. Clark passed away on February 4, 2020, after a storied career as an oncology nurse and cancer survivor. Her experiences as both patient and healthcare professional allowed her to cross the gap, relate to patients, and empathize with their cancer journey. Her focus on nursing excellence left a lasting impact on the profession and resonates throughout the larger oncology nursing community.
“Donna really knew what it meant to ‘encourage the heart,’” ONS President Laura Fennimore, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, remembers. “She used her influence and reach on social media to encourage ONS members to embrace their passion for oncology nursing, and I think she would challenge us to continue to do this for one another.”
Clark was active in many areas of the Society. She served as president of the Northwest Florida ONS chapter in 2017 and was a fixture in her local community. She was a dedicated oncology nursing advocate, participating in ONS’s 2017 Capitol Hill Days in Washington, DC, where she met with her elected officials to educate them on the experiences of patients with cancer and oncology nurses everywhere. Clark was also the recipient of a 2016 Oncology Nursing Foundation Congress Scholarship. She was an active participant on the ONS Communities and social media, where she championed the work of her oncology nursing peers and shared breaking news, research, and clinical practice information.
“Donna had an all-encompassing passion for ONS and for developing that passion in others too. I remember when she encouraged me to attend ONS Leadership Weekend. She knew I was scared to rub shoulders with the bigwigs at ONS headquarters, so she booked a flight and paid the fees out of her own pocket just so I wasn’t alone. It’s that kind of sacrifice for others that our chapter will miss,” Elizabeth Matthews, MSN, RN, OCN®, ONN-CG, president of the Northwest Florida ONS Chapter, said. “She loved everyone she met. Her smile, laugh, spirit, and advocacy for patients with cancer and nurses made you want to be a better oncology nurse. Her impact on me, Northwest Florida ONS Chapter members, and the world continues through her many articles, blogs, tweets, and personal friendships. We love and will miss Donna.”
As a prolific writer and nursing advocate, Clark contributed to the Oncology Nursing News and Cure magazine, sharing her experiences as a patient and provider. Through her passionate focus on quality, patient-centered care, Clark strove to always learn and grow as an oncology nurse.
“I truly believe God placed, deep in my heart, the desire to be an oncology nurse,” Clark said in an interview for Cure magazine. “I lost my father to lung cancer and my mother to gastric cancer, and I was diagnosed with advanced endometrial cancer in 2014. I think of myself as dual citizen, as both nurse and patient. When I got sick, my patients sent me music, flowers, and encouraging notes. One of the best parts of nursing are the relationships with those we care for who return it to us when it’s most needed.”