Each year, CURE® recognizes the tireless work of oncology nurses across the country who go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their patients’ lives. Now more so than ever before, these oncology nurses are risking their lives with relentless dedication to care for their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Finest Hour Award honors an individual oncology nurse— nominated by his or her colleagues, patients, friends or family— who transcends the already strenuous expectations of nursing with grace, empathy, courage and excellence. At PreludeDx, we have the privilege of working with these incredible caregivers every day, and it is with great pride that we introduce our nomination for the 2021 Finest Hour Award, Candace Churchwell, RN.
Candace is the epitome of everything nursing should be. She is intelligent and intuitive, gentle and yet strong, compassionate, patient, and in constant pursuit of what’s best for her patients. She is the kind of nurse who celebrates your wins fiercely and sincerely, belly laughs with you when you need a pick-me-up, and cries with you when you just need a good cry.
Candace first decided to become a nurse while giving birth to her daughter, Caitlin. She went into the hospital with the intention of studying business administration, and left with a little baby girl and a newfound passion for healthcare. Mesmerized by the nurses and doctors who stood beside her as she labored, she dedicated her time and efforts to joining them in making the lives of those they treat healthier and happier.
She spent years working in labor and delivery, OBGYN settings and nursing homes. She still makes sure to spend time in the nursing home and lights up when talking about the fulfillment it brings her. She speaks often and passionately about the importance of sitting with geriatric patients and just listening. She listens to the stories they so badly wish to tell about how things used to be and allows them to reminisce, especially now that the pandemic has isolated them from other loved ones.
She began working in oncology last March and not a minute too soon. In April, the same daughter whose birth inspired her to become a nurse, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at just 17-years-old. Candace has always been a fantastic nurse, but to watch her navigate the unbelievable obstacles she’s encountered in the last year with such grace and selfless love has been an awe-inspiring privilege. She juggled being a mom of two teenagers and a caretaker both professionally and personally with as much empathy as a person could possibly demonstrate.
Candace has used her family’s experience on the other side of oncology nursing as fuel and a reminder of why she does what she does. And since witnessing her daughter’s fight and eventual triumph over cancer this past November, she does it even better. She continues to wake up each day and strive to be a better nurse, friend, colleague and mother than she was yesterday. She makes hospitals and offices a brighter place to be and fills even the most dreary oncology rooms with a little more sunshine. We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize her and all the various ways she embodies true, selfless oncology nursing. We are all better for knowing her and are honored to submit her name for recognition as the truly extraordinary healer she is.