Touching on various areas of the care continuum, the AONN+ awards are a highlight of the annual conference, with navigators stepping up as unsung heroes to be honored for their valuable contributions. This year was no exception, with the usual celebratory tone intact despite the inability to meet face-to-face.
Perhaps most moving among the honors was the CONQUER: the patient voice Hero of Hope Award, which recognizes an oncology patient for outstanding contributions to the cancer community. Khadijat Fatai-Banwo, a 10-year survivor of HER2 triple-positive breast cancer and patient advocate in Nigeria, could not have been more perfectly suited for the award. Having lost her husband 7 days after a radical single mastectomy, Ms Fatai-Banwo did not allow her cancer battle or profound loss to stop her from enacting positive change.
Ms Fatai-Banwo co-founded Project PINK BLUE (PPB), a nonprofit aimed at raising cancer awareness, as well as providing patient navigation, advocacy, and free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women in poverty. The organization has reached more than 25 million people. The breast navigator at PPB, Ms Fatai-Banwo’s passion, is to change the cancer paradigm in Africa. Also, co-founder of the Abuja Breast Cancer Support Group, she was instrumental in developing the Breast Cancer Navigation and Palliative Program at PPB with a grant from Union for International Cancer Control. A certified patient navigator at George Washington Cancer Center in the United States, Ms Fatai-Banwo is a champion for gender equality and other gender-related issues.
“Wow, what she has done is totally incredible,” AONN+ Program Director Sharon Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN, said of Ms Fatai-Banwo.
Named for AONN+ Co-Founder and retired Program Director, the Lillie D. Shockney Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a member who has made remarkable contributions to oncology navigation, as well as to AONN+. Awardee Danelle Johnston, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, OCN, who has served as a trailblazing leader for the organization over the past 3 years, initiated and nurtured partnerships with numerous oncology organizations, and offered invaluable clinical and professional insights that have helped AONN+ to thrive. Her vision gave birth to the processes, policies, procedures, and role descriptions that have given AONN+ its structure. An adept leader, Ms Johnston’s tireless efforts and countless initiatives have helped to make AONN+ what it is today.
“It is with professional pride but also personal pride that we have chosen Danelle to receive the Lillie D. Shockney Lifetime Achievement Award,” Ms Shockney said.
In recognition of its patient navigation program, Sarah Cannon received the AONN+ Organization Award. Based in Nashville, TN, Sarah Cannon encompasses multiple cancer centers nationwide, as well as one in London, UK, with a formalized process at these centers allowing nurse navigators to comprehensively manage a patient’s experience with cancer.
Bestowing special honors on the leaders of these efforts, Michelle Rowe, RN, BHCA, Assistant Vice President of Clinical Operations; Brook Blackmore, RN, MBA, MSN, Senior Director of Navigation Operations; and Judy Koutlas, RN, MS, OCN, Senior Director of Navigation Operations, AONN+ leaders called out their commitment to professional development and lifelong learning.
An exceptional leader, Elizabeth Franklin, PhD, MSW, Executive Director of the Cancer Policy Institute at the Cancer Support Community, Washington, DC, was aptly chosen to receive the AONN+ Ambassador Award. As leader of the AONN+ Policy and Advocacy Committee, Dr Franklin used her experience and diplomacy to help make the Academy part of the national healthcare discussion. Providing valuable contributions during her service on the AONN+ Leadership Council, she offered knowledge and insights to promote inclusivity and multidisciplinary approaches to navigation.
The Central Indiana Local Navigator Network (LNN) received the Outstanding LNN Award in recognition of its exceptional work in establishing an open forum for professional development and networking that aligns with the AONN+ mission.
The Putting Evidence into Practice Award honors an AONN+ member who has conducted evidence-based research that supports navigation. Having served on the AONN+ Leadership Council, Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Oncology, Director of Cancer Survivorship, and Co-Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Survivorship at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, is Co-Chair of the Genetics and Genomics Committee. In that role, she contributed to the Building Relationships in Delivering Genetic/Genomic Education (BRIDGE) program, which seeks to give all navigators a working knowledge of genetics and genomics, so that they may better advocate for patients.
Peg Rummel, RN, MHA, OCN, NE-BC, received the AONN+ Oncology Navigation Excellence Award, which recognizes navigators for their contributions to oncology navigation, patient care, or education. As the Co-Chair of the AONN+ Conference Planning Committee, she ensures that the conference provides relevant and high-value agendas and speakers that will enhance and develop the professional growth of attendees. Thanks to her dedication and commitment, the AONN+ Annual Conference was filled with informative sessions and exciting events.