President’s Message for the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Posted by: Ernest Ho
“Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it we are going back.” — Florence Nightingale
In oncology nursing, there is no question that progress has been and continues to be made. A glance back at the milestones over the years shows just how far we have come in the diagnosis of and treatment for cancer (see timeline below). Oncology nurses have unequivocally been part of the successes in cancer care and indeed, play an integral role in current and future progress.
And yet, nurses know that there is still a lot of work to be done. We know that cure does not always mean eradication of suffering and that while one might survive cancer, they may be left with an array of long-term side effects and complications that impact their physical, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being for years beyond the treatment of the cancer. We also know that more needs to be done to improve care for underserved populations such as (but not limited to): people with advanced or metastatic disease, Indigenous peoples, sexual and gender minorities, adolescents and young adults with cancer, adult survivors of pediatric cancer, and people who reside in rural and remote locations. We know that there are many people in Canada, and beyond our borders, who do not have access to quality, comprehensive cancer care, including palliative oncology care.
We also know that quantity of life and quality of life are not synonymous and that it is only the person with cancer who should decide how that balance should be reconciled. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are now an important part of evaluating new drugs and treatments and are routinely being integrated into cancer care.
Nurses know that our work is not done. We remain committed to contributing to advancements in cancer care for all and to supporting all of those affected by cancer. With 2020 being the Year of the Nurse and The Midwife, there is no better time to use our compassion, our expertise and skills, and our shared desire to improve the lives of those impacted by cancer. I’ll close with another quote from Florence Nightingale who said, “Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore”.
Reanne Booker, MN, BScN, NP
CANO/ACIO was founded in 1985 “with the goal to create a professional body to support other Canadian nurses working with cancer patients and advocate for appropriate care for patients and roles for oncology nurses” (Cummings et al., 2018, p. 315). Since then, oncology nursing has evolved, keeping pace with the array of advances in cancer treatment.
For more on the history of oncology nursing and CANO/ACIO, please see this article, “The evolution of oncology nursing: Leading the path to change”, written by Greta Cummings, Sarah Lee, & Kaitlyn Tate. Dr Cummings was the recipient of CANO/ACIO’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Milestones in the treatment of cancer
1846: General anesthesia demonstrated
1882: William Halsted, first radical mastectomy
1898: Radium discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie
1903: First use of radiotherapy to treat cancer
1928: Pap test introduced
1947: Sidney Farber achieved first partial response for pediatric leukemia using aminopterin; until this point, children usually died with a few weeks of diagnosis
1949: First FDA approval of chemotherapy drug for cancer (nitrogen mustard)
1953: First documented case of cancer being cured (choriocarcinoma)
1958: Combination chemotherapy introduced
1970: Radioactive “seeds” used to treat cancer
1977: FDA approval of tamoxifen; WHO introduces guidelines for pain management
1989: FDA approval of epoietin alpha
1991: FDA approval of filgrastim; FDA approval of ondansetron
1993: Taxanes introduced
1997: FDA approval of rituximab (1st targeted therapy)
1998: FDA approval of trastuzumab
2001: FDA approval of Gleevec (received fasted approval in FDA history)
2003: Human Genome Project completed; 3 billion DNA letters in human genome mapped
2004: FDA approval of bevacizumab
2005: Childhood Cancer Survivors Study (CCSS) revealed late/long term complications of childhood cancer treatment
2006: FDA approval of Gardasil
2007: Institute of Medicine states that psychosocial care should be an integral part of care
2008: Screening for Distress introduced as the 6th vital sign
2009: Survivorship gaining momentum as a part of cancer care
2010: Temel et al. report improved quality of life and overall survival for people with advanced lung cancer who received palliative care in addition to standard chemotherapy
2011: FDA approval of ipilimumab
2017: First ‘ciclib’ approved by FDA (palbociclib); first gene therapy (CAR-T cell therapy (tisagenlecleucel)) approved by FDA
2020: ++++++ new cancer therapies & interventions being studied and approved, including drug treatments as well as other interventions aimed at improving QOL and patient experience