Catherine Lyons Posthumously Receives 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at 47th Annual ONS Congress

June 14, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA—June 14, 2022—In a fitting tribute to a life that touched so many others, ONS honored member Catherine Lyons, RN, MS, NEA-BC, FNAP, posthumously with a 2022 ONS Lifetime Achievement Award during its 47th Annual ONS Congress® in Anaheim, CA. Before her retirement and death in November 2021, Lyons was an executive consultant for oncology services. 

“Cathy was a long-time ONS member and trailblazing oncology nurse leader,” 2020–2022 ONS President Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, said. “Through more than 40 years as a healthcare professional, Cathy’s contributions were vast, and her legacy has left a lasting mark on the oncology nursing profession.” 

The ONS Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually at ONS Congress, recognizes ONS members who make outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing and to the Society, as well as those who have proven themselves as important leaders within the Society and their communities. Lyons held significant leadership roles in academic medical centers and cancer centers and was dedicated to patient satisfaction and institutional advancement throughout her career.  

ONS member Anne Gross, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, coordinated Lyons’ nomination with colleagues from the NCI Cancer Nurse executives and from her workplace. She accepted the award on behalf of Lyons’ family during ONS Congress’s opening ceremonies.  

“I nominated Cathy Lyons because of the tremendous contributions she made to oncology nursing through a career of exemplary clinical practice, leadership, advocacy, and mentorship,” Gross, who is senior vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said. “Cathy gave endless hours of her time to supporting oncology nurses to provide the best possible care to their patients. She brought the voice of patients with cancer and the nurses who cared for them to executive leaders and board members in the institutions where she worked, ensuring that resources were allocated appropriately to support excellent practice environments.” 

In 1975, Lyons began her career as a staff nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, eventually becoming the institute’s chief nurse executive and vice president for clinical operations.  

Lyons went on to serve as the chief of the Office of Clinical Trials Support and Research Nursing at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research; associate director of clinical services and nursing at the University of Rochester James P. Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester, NY; and clinical program director, executive director of patient services, and vice president of patient services at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale New Haven Health in New Haven, CT. In addition, Lyons served as an assistant chief nurse of an evacuation hospital in the U.S. Army. 

An experienced speaker, Lyons regularly presented at national and international conferences, including several ONS Congresses. She published articles in several academic journals, including the Journal of Oncology Practice and Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.  

Lyons held prestigious awards and honors, including: the Connecticut Nurses Association’s Doris Armstrong Award for Nursing Administration, Niagara University’s Saint Louise De Marillac Award for Outstanding Service, National Academy of Practice’s Distinguished Practitioner, and the U.S. Army Achievement Medal. 

“Cathy died in early November surrounded by her family in Buffalo, NY,” Gross said as she accepted Lyons’s award during ONS Congress. “Fortunately, several of us were able to be with her before she died to share the news that she would be receiving this award today, which as you can image, was incredibly meaningful to her.” 

ONS is a professional association that represents 100,000 nurses and is the professional home to more than 35,000 members. ONS is committed to promoting excellence in oncology nursing and the transformation of cancer care. Since 1975, ONS has provided a professional community for oncology nurses, developed evidence-based education programs and treatment information, and advocated for patient care, all in an effort to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families. Learn more at www.ons.org


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