An Oncology Nurse Who Makes Patients Smile



For 41 years, Fiona Wilkie, RN, has been making oncology patients (and her co-workers) laugh. Oncology patients, from their diagnosis and throughout treatment, often must look death right in the face and decide how they’re going to respond. They frequently come into the chemotherapy treatment room in various stages of fear or grief, but then they meet Fiona.

Her warm smile and quick wit have patients laughing and feel- ing more at home within minutes. She’ll roll up to a new patient on a stool and say, “Hold on, I can’t see your veins without my glasses.” From then on, they’ll share recipes, pictures of family and trips, puzzles and laughter.

Even though she has the most contagious chuckle, she is also the nurse who is most gifted at guiding patients — even our clinic manager’s own daughter — in conversations about the end of life. Most patients leave the clinic describing it as a place they look forward going to, and their last treatment is celebrated with warm hugs and happy tears as they ring the encouragement bell. Much of that environment is created by Fiona.

When you have an odd question about side effects, ask Fiona. When you need an IV line on a patient with no visible veins, ask Fiona. When you need a hand-knitted sweater for a Christmas present, ask Fiona. When you need a good recipe or some homemade apple butter, ask Fiona. For a great cup of tea, ask Fiona. When you’d like to have an interesting conversation about the current state of the world, or aliens, ask Fiona. For assistance with a code blue or hypersensitivity reaction, ask Fiona.

Her confidence is calming, her wisdom is irreplaceable, and in conversations, she has a way of making anyone feel as though they are the most interesting person she knows. I am nominating Fiona Wilkie for the CURE Extraordinary Healer Award.

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