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Igniting a Passion for Oncology Nursing With CURE Extraordinary Healer® Award Winner Abbey Kaler, MS, APRN, FNP-C

The 2023 winner of the CURE Extraordinary Healer® Award, announced at the recent Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress in San Antonio, Texas, is Abbey Kaler, MS, APRN, FNP-C, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse in the Advanced Breast Cancer Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. After the excitement of her win, Ms. Kaler sat down with Oncology Data Advisor to reflect on her passion for oncology nursing and for being able to connect with patients and help them through their journeys.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Welcome to Oncology Data Advisor. Today, we're here at ONS Congress, and I'm joined by Abbey Kaler. Thanks so much for joining.

Abbey Kaler, MS, APRN, FNP-C: Hi, good morning. Thanks for having me.

Oncology Data Advisor: Congratulations again on winning the CURE Extraordinary Healer® Award. How does it feel to have won it?

Ms. Kaler: Oh my goodness, thank you so much. It's very overwhelming, and I'm really at a loss for words, but I am so very honored and really feel so appreciated. It really just gives me a reason to go back to work on Monday morning and take all that I learned here at ONS Congress and change my practice for the better.

Oncology Data Advisor: Absolutely. In your role at MD Anderson, what are some of your main outreaches and projects?

Ms. Kaler: Yes, definitely. So, there are definitely too many to name right now, but I take care of patients who are living with advanced breast cancer, and as part of that role, I'm really looking at their quality of life and the different programs that would support them. Particularly, I facilitate a weekly support group for these patients, for them to come and have a safe space to share what they might be experiencing. Then also we facilitate a weekly educational webinar. It's an educational event for all of our patients and their caregivers to really learn about their illness and all of the support services that are available to them.

Oncology Data Advisor: That's amazing. Those are so many great resources for patients.

Ms. Kaler: Yes, definitely.

Oncology Data Advisor: So, what do you love most about being an oncology nurse?

Ms. Kaler: I love being able to connect with my patients, to be able to meet them where they are, wherever they might be in their journey, and to be able to listen and understand what it is that they might need. I love having the ability as a nurse to intervene and help them, whether it's through education or resources, to be able to meet them where they are and provide them with the support that we have, because we're so fortunate to have so many resources to be able to assist our patients.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. And what has helped you sustain your passion for nursing?

Ms. Kaler: So, I was a cancer patient when I was a child, and that is definitely a driving force behind my desire to get up every morning. But I also have two young daughters, and I love showing them that they can do anything that they want to do, and if they put their mind to it and they work hard, they can achieve great things.

Ms. Kaler: That's awesome. Do you have any advice for nurses who might be starting out in their careers?

Ms. Kaler: I do. The one big lesson that I have learned is just to be present and to listen, to take the time to sit down and listen, and you'll be surprised about what patients want to share with you. Through listening, you can understand, and you can hear how to help your patients. It's a really simple task, but has long-lasting, profound effects.

Oncology Data Advisor: Right. So, how have you enjoyed being at ONS so far?

Ms. Kaler: Oh my gosh, this is so fun. The energy here is palpable. There are just so many meetings. I wish I could attend them all, but they're all at the same time, so I look forward to using the recorded content when I get back and viewing what I wasn't able to catch live while I was here.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. Well, thanks so much for stopping by. It was so great talking with you.

Ms. Kaler: Yes, it was wonderful. Thanks again.

About Ms. Kaler

Abbey Kaler, MS, APRN, FNP-C, is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse in the Advanced Breast Cancer Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she specializes in the treatment and care of patients with breast cancer. In addition, she is a participator and presenter in the Weekly Advanced Breast Cancer Patient Tumor Board and Educational Webinar Series, and she is Leader of the myCancerConnection and Advanced Breast Cancer Program Partnership at MD Anderson.

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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