Willa Hughey, a nurse at NHRMC Radiation Oncology – Brunswick began her career on the med-surgical floor at NHRMC after graduating from the nursing program at University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1975. Three years later she began working at Hanover Medical Specialists and became the first medical oncology nurse in private practice in a five-county region.
Willa became involved with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and represented southeastern NC in oncology clinical trials. She joined the Oncology Nursing Society, became nationally certified in 1987 and continues to hold that certification.
After spending 12 years away from acute care, Willa returned to NHRMC as the IV chemotherapy specialty nurse. She became the leader of 8 South, helped develop a 21-bed oncology floor with trained volunteers, certified oncology staff, music therapy, recreational therapists, a humor cart, a weekly hairdresser and massage therapist. She also created a monthly Look Good Feel Better program for patients to attend.
Willa began a bimonthly Cansurvive Cancer Support group with Ron Wedekind, a chaplain at the time. She was an executive board member for the ACS, started the I Can Cope Series, was team leader for Relay for Life, co-facilitator for Cancer Survivors Day, and committee planner for the Cancer Symposium.
While living outside of the Wilmington area for 10 years, Willa was one of 26 nurses in NC to receive the North Carolina Nursing Excellence Award in 2006.
At the request of Martin Meyerson, MD, Willa returned to the Wilmington area in 2007 to help open and become nurse manager for South Atlantic Radiation Oncology. Dr. Meyerson and Willa started the monthly tumor conference at Brunswick Hospital, currently Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.
Willa, who also served as president of the Cape Fear Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society for four years, won the Champion of Hope Award from the Women of Hope organization in 2014.
Willa always shares her enthusiasm for oncology nursing, educating patients and staff, practicing with a depth of knowledge and calmness, and showing kindness to everyone.
Willa has touched the lives of countless nurses, doctors and patients during her career as an oncology nurse. Team members say Willa is a true example of what an oncology nurse is meant to be, and she will be greatly missed.
Bottom photo: Willa in 1975.