When more than 3,000 oncology nurses gather together for ONS Congress®, the energy is electric. We just concluded our 48th annual conference in San Antonio, TX, and I am honored to now serve as your next president. If you attended, I hope that you were able to rejuvenate, refocus, and revitalize and enjoyed meeting new oncology nurses and connecting with colleagues, as I did, celebrating each other and our profession while taking advantage of important nursing continuing professional development opportunities. If you weren’t able to attend this year, visit ONS Voice’s conference section to watch video news reports of ONS Congress’s key moments.

By Danya Garner, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, OCN®, CCRN-K, 2023–2024 ONS President
Danya Garner, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, OCN®, CCRN-K, 2023–2024 ONS President

Our annual celebrations at ONS Congress are an ideal way to transition into Oncology Nursing Month each May, which carries the theme Making a Difference Every Single Day in 2023. Whether you work in an inpatient or outpatient setting; in direct patient care, administration, education, or research; or in any other diverse practice as an oncology nurse, what you do makes an important difference every day and deserves recognition. May 6–12 is also National Nurses Week, beginning on National Nurses Day and concluding on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. We have much to celebrate in our profession this month! Thank you for showing up for yourself, your patients, and each other.

As we embrace this season of celebrating one another, I am reminded of one of my “whys” in oncology nursing. At the center of my nursing practice is the patient and their loved ones. During one of my night shifts on an inpatient bone marrow transplant unit, a patient to whom I was assigned said to me, “You know what, Danya?” I immediately tuned in because he pronounced my name correctly. He continued, “I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to extend my life by having a bone marrow transplant so that I can see my grandchildren just a little while longer. While the doctors tell me that there is no cure for my type of cancer, they said that I could undergo another bone marrow transplant if I need one, but that’s okay.” Then he completed adding his current laboratory values to the spreadsheet on his laptop, where he was trending the data in the true nature of a lifelong engineer. At that moment, I was granted entrance into my patient’s choices and rationales, and it became my sincere duty to uphold them by providing the highest degree of evidence-based care that the patient deemed he required. Behind every cancer diagnosis is a patient, and behind every patient are desires and wishes that we must hear and embrace.

We owe it to ourselves to reflect on our “whys” in oncology nursing. Whether a single event or a series of events define how you practice and uphold your nursing values, it is the reflection that reminds us of our passion. Oprah Winfrey said, "Passion is the log that keeps the fire of purpose blazing.” Ignite your fire so you can share its warmth with those privileged to receive your oncology nursing care.

As I begin my term as ONS president, the ONS Board of Directors is committed to supporting all oncology nurses while upholding the mission to advance excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care. I look forward to continuing to witness the differences you are making every single day. Happy Oncology Nursing Month!