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Past Recipient: Joanne Redondo

Joanne RedondoThe recipient of the 2015 June Breit and Jocelyn Farrar Outstanding Nurse Award was Joanne Redondo. Joanne began her career as a nurse 32 years ago when she graduated from Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, PA. She has always worked in a University/Teaching Hospital setting and began her career at Presbyterian University Hospital, now known as UMPC Presbyterian Hospital. Her initial surgical career began with organ transplants, primarily liver, kidney, and pancreas. She worked for a team of transplant surgeons headed by Dr. Thomas Starzl, the pioneer of organ transplantation. Although Joanne loved the specialty, she decided to advance her career in the surgical Critical Care setting for the next 20 years. During that time, she took on several administrative roles, but her passion was always at the bedside providing direct patient care. She loved the critical care specialty and always dreamed to become more autonomous and work closer with the patients and their families when she went back to school. As the role of the CRNP began to evolve, she envisioned herself in this exciting role. Joanne stated, “I would spend endless hours with families in crisis while working in the ICU, and knew that God called me to not only provide direct care to their loved ones, but to also minister to them in times of need.” As she began to care for more and more patients inflicted with cancer, her desire to work with oncology patients grew. Joanne believed she could make a difference in their lives, big or small, and was determined to persevere ahead, whatever it took. Although her ultimate goal was to obtain her MSN and become a nurse practitioner, her job as a mother of 4 young children had to take precedence over advancing my career. She went back to graduate school in 2009 while working full time and teaching nursing students part-time at the university to help supplement her tuition. She graduated in May 2012 Summa Cum Laude from Duquesne University, as a CRNP with a focus in Family Care. At 52 years old, Joanne was finally able to achieve her lifelong goal of earning an advanced degree. She accepted her first job 3 years ago working in the Surgical Oncology division at the Hillman Cancer Center. Her specialty involved GI, liver, pancreas, melanoma, and mesothelioma type cancers. Joanne stated, “I know this was my calling. As I embarked on a new chapter in my life, I did not realize how many families and lives I would affect on a daily basis. I have not only gained a new career, but I have gained endless new patients and families to love and care for. I have to say that many of the mesothelioma patients have touched my heart in ways too difficult to express.” Within the last year, Joanne met a young 24 year old diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma - the same age as her oldest son. This was the toughest, but most challenging case for her. I feel honored that he feels comfortable calling me – as he has done exceeding well since his HIPEC surgery over 1 year ago.  She also cared for a young woman her own age, an RN and mother of 4 beautiful daughters. Joanne stated, “She inspires me to take each day and embrace it!!” Joanne goes on to say, “From my patients, although I continue to teach and support them about their own disease, I have in turn learned so much from them in regards to hope, perseverance, and living each day to the fullest - a priceless gift!! For me, the most difficult moments are knowing that there is no cure for mesothelioma. Nonetheless, I have such an unending passion to help these families through such a difficult post-operative road and endless treatment plan.” When asked what she enjoys most about being a nurse, Joanne stated, “I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to care for such challenging, yet rewarding patients. I continue to keep in touch with many of my patients that are struggling with minimal treatment options left after multiple surgeries and chemotherapy regimens, and will continue to stand tall to support the fight to find a cure!”