The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) honored the late Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN, with the prestigious 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the first time the organization has posthumously given any of its awards.
The award was presented during the ONS 44th Annual Congress April 11, 2019 and accepted by Meneses’ longtime colleague and partner Patrick McNees. When accepting the award, McNees shared a story about Meneses’ dedication to serving others. On a vacation in Australia, Meneses got a call from a patient who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent more than an hour addressing the patient’s questions and fears, while providing guidance.
“Karen and I managed to summarize our goal for working in health care down to nine words and four sentences,” McNees said. “Go forward. Do good. Touch lives. Change the world.”
Each year, the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an ONS member who makes outstanding contributions to the field of oncology nursing and to ONS. In order to receive the award, the nominee must receive letters of support from multiple ONS members. Retired Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Dunn Bucholtz, RN, MS, GNP, from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins nominated Meneses for this award. Bucholtz and Meneses met in the 1980s at an ONS Congress, and both worked as Clinical Nurse Specialists in radiation oncology and soon embarked on numerous radiation oncology nursing projects including publications and presentations.
Bucholtz compiled the application following Meneses’ unexpected death in August 2018, bringing together former colleagues through letters of support and a nomination letter.
“Karen had this infectious way of kindly roping you into the numerous projects she thought of. Her mission was to promote the best oncology nursing practice and help others to do the same,” Bucholtz said. “Karen’s death hit me hard. When she suddenly passed away, I saw the ONS award nominations were shortly due and I knew she deserved the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
As she reached out to Meneses’ colleague and mentees to gather information for the nomination, Bucholtz said everyone was enthusiastic to help.”
“In choosing Dr. Karen Meneses for this award, the Oncology Nursing Society would not only be recognizing her contributions and service to the organization’s mission, but also will be recognizing a dedicated leader, a compassionate humanitarian and a nurse oncologist who touched many lives in ways that left us all better people for having known her,” wrote National Cancer Institute Director of the Division of Extramural Activities Paulette S. Gray, PhD. Gray worked with Meneses on the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute.
Through her research, Meneses created new knowledge about cancer survivorship disparities and quality of life which positively impacts the lives of patients daily. She was internationally known as a trailblazing oncology nurse researcher and clinician with more than 25 years of continuous peer-reviewed funding supporting her research in survivorship issues among underserved populations.
She also served on numerous national and local committees, academic boards and advisory groups, and served in an advisory role to the White House for two U.S. Presidents.
“Throughout her career, Dr. Meneses exemplified and achieved an outstanding and sustained level of oncology nursing practice, education, and research,” said UAB School of Nursing Professor and Marie O’Koren Endowed Chair Marie Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, FAAN, who wrote a letter of support for Meneses’ nomination. “Her life and work advanced the frontiers of science and made significant contributions to improving the health and quality of life of oncology patients.”
“The loss of Dr. Karen Meneses is still deeply felt in the UAB and oncology nursing communities,” said UAB School of Nursing Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Her efforts as the Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship led to the UAB School of Nursing becoming a top 15-ranked School of Nursing in NIH Research. She also encouraged many researchers throughout her career who will carry on her legacy. This award recognizes Karen’s many contributions to nursing, research and health care, as well as the lasting impact made by her efforts.”