by Vickie Jenkins – Writer/Photographer
The Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma is the only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center in Oklahoma. Less than 2 percent of cancer centers nationally have earned this prestigious and highly competitive accreditation for outstanding patient care and research. The Stephenson Cancer Center is the largest oncology practice in the state, with more than 70 board-certified oncology physicians and a large team of advanced providers and supportive care specialists delivering the highest standard of patient-centered, multidisciplinary care for every type of cancer.
Among the excellent staff at Stephenson Cancer Center is a very special nurse; Cathy Hopkins, RN, working in chemo and infusion.
Cathy grew up in northern California. At the mere age of five, she faced the fact that her mother had her first diagnosis of cancer. Even though Cathy didn’t fully understand everything going on, she was aware of how caring the nurses were through the whole ordeal. It was at that time, she had an interest in caring for others; she wanted to be a nurse. Little did Cathy know that her mother’s cancer would pull at her heartstrings, giving her a desire to work in oncology.
After several moves Cathy ended up going to school at OSUOKC, getting her nursing degree, working in an inpatient oncology office. Cathy has been a nurse for ten years and has worked for Stephenson Cancer Center for four years. She has a real desire to work in oncology. This is where she works in the Chemo and Infusion area with twenty-eight chemo-certified nurses.
What is your favorite part of your job? “I like when the patients come in and I can see the relationship between the patient and me setting a basis for a strong foundation of friendship. After all, we are with the patients for long periods of time; long hours that can be for one day, a week or for some patients, even months. We see patients, men and women for every kind of cancer,” Cathy replied. “We have 45 chairs/beds for the infusions. We usually see 165-175 patients a day and that is for just infusions,” she added.
Asking Cathy what qualities an oncology nurse should have, she replied, “First of all, especially for oncology, a nurse needs to have empathy. They need to be detail-oriented due to the serious drugs that are being used, along with keeping up-to-date with the new drugs that are being introduced. Being a good listener is a big key too. Also, an important factor is a nurse needs to be able to work well with others and be a team play. In chemo and infusion, three nurses work together as a team,” Cathy added.
When asking Cathy to describe herself, she replied, “Well, I’m a compassionate person and I tend to be a little shy overall. People seem to be drawn to me and really open up; which makes me a good listener. My kids and my family life are very important to me; I have two daughters and one granddaughter, Kynslee, 16-months and I love spending time with them. I enjoy reading, arts and crafts and going to movies. I like being a nurse in oncology here at Stephenson Cancer Center and can’t see myself doing anything else.”
If you were going to give advice to someone going into the medical field, what would you tell them? “The first thing I would tell them that it is a great field to go into. I have to say, I am a little bit of a research nerd and I like doing the research of certain things and what causes what. If you are going to be an oncology nurse, you will do a lot of listening and comforting, knowing that you will be dealing with chronically ill patients which can be difficult at times. I would also tell them that being a nurse is a rewarding job and you will know that you are making a big difference in others’ lives,” Cathy commented.
Cathy mentioned one special person, friend, and mentor that helped her as she went through nursing school. “She was one of my instructors, Cathy said. “That special person is Cathy Howe. What an amazing person!”
Asking Cathy why she works in oncology; chemo and infusion, she gave an honest answer straight from the heart; “I want to make a patient’s quality of life better,” she replied.
Summing up Cathy’s life in one word, she said, “you may not understand this, but I do. It would be, RESILIENT. “
Investigates violations of the OK Nursing Practice Act. Monitors compliance with Board Orders. Must be detail oriented. Public speaking is required. BSN required, MS preferred – 7 years exp., 2 years nursing service exp. For application packet contact: Teena, OK Board of Nursing, (405) 962-1810. Application review begins August 28th. Position will remain open until filled. EEOE