Working Together, Passionate ONS Volunteers Are Transforming Cancer Care

April 01, 2024 by Danya Garner PhD, RN, NPD-BC, OCN®, CCRN, 2023–2024 ONS President

Oncology nurses are essential in accomplishing this important work—in fact, for nearly 50 years, ONS has centered its initiatives around a vision “to lead the transformation of cancer care.” I have been honored to work with ONS as both a member and a volunteer leader in undertaking this important endeavor in many ways, including through advocacy. In September 2022, ONS held its 7th Annual Capitol Hill Days, during which ONS members built instrumental congressional support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act. Subsequently, it became a federal law on December 12, 2022, and went into effect on January 1, 2024. We hope to continue that momentum and lead the transformation of cancer care later this month during the 8th Annual Capitol Hill Day: An Alumni Experience. The event brings ONS members to the halls of the U.S. Congress to make their voices heard about our current needs for oncology nursing.

My year as ONS president (2023–2024) concludes at the end of April. I’ve devoted my presidency to our members and the individuals to whom we provide nursing care. Oncology nursing is my north star, and I know that I am not alone in the galaxy of hope and discovery across ONS and its members.

One of my mentors once told me that if I keep sight of the goal, everything will fall into place, from finances to staffing concerns. Joining me in that endeavor during my presidency was a team of exceptional oncology nursing leaders, my fellow directors-at-large on the ONS Board of Directors, who spent the time in addition to their daily jobs to keep the mission and vision of ONS alive and well.

“If your dream only includes you, it’s too small,” Ava DuVernay (https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ava-duvernay), an American filmmaker and screenwriter, said during a 2015 SXSW session (https://www.theroot.com/ava-duvernay-at-sxsw-if-your-dream-only-includes-you-1790859101). My dream for ONS has been colossal, supported not only by the Board and myriad ONS members, but also staff and CEO Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN.

Excellence is one of ONS’s four core values (https://www.ons.org/about-ons/ons-leadership/mission-vision-and-values): “We strive to foster excellence in oncology nursing and quality patient care. We are committed to nothing less than excellence in our organization and the care of patients.” From ONS Board to staff, I have witnessed the passion we all bring to our work, which is the foundation of excellence.

One important undertaking that the ONS Board of Directors led in 2023–2024 was the examination of ONS chapters. As a membership organization, we maintain a pulse on our most valuable assets, our members, through governance, strategic, and fiduciary oversight. We have had tough conversations and memorable outings that contributed not only to sustaining our team but also to enhancing the work that we perform together.

ONS’s success would not be as momentous without our volunteers (https://www.ons.org/make-difference/volunteer#:~:text=Volunteer%20Through%20ONS&text=Take%20a%20moment%20to%20visit,order%20to%20access%20the%20applications.) who go above and beyond. Thank you for all that you do! Personally, I have grown professionally because of my volunteer roles within ONS, and I encourage all of you to investigate (https://communities.ons.org/participate/opportunities-list-public) your volunteer avenues in ONS.

As I prepare to hand off the baton to Jessica MacIntyre, DNP, MBA, APRN, AOCNP®, your next ONS president, I know the organization is in great hands. I am abundantly filled with the experiences that I have had over the course of this year and the outstanding oncology nurses with whom I have connected worldwide. Remember, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed” (Booker T. Washington (http://www.literaturepage.com/read/upfromslavery-32.html)).


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