A Mayo nurse who plays a vital role in supporting patients on cutting-edge clinical trials for blood cancers was among the winners at the annual Irish Cancer Society Research Awards on Thursday last.
A nurse of 19 years, Jessica Walsh has specialised in cancer care for the last 12 years and currently works with the Blood Cancer Network of Ireland (BCNI ) at NUIG.
Walsh emerged victorious in the Research Support Staff of the Year category at the Irish Cancer Society Research Awards in Dublin for her work supporting a specialised team of scientists, doctors and nurses at the BCNI.
A research initiative funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland, the BCNI runs trials with the aim of developing and advancing much-needed new treatments and medications for blood cancers.
Walsh makes a critical contribution to enabling these trials by identifying and signing up eligible patients to be involved. She then acts as a central point of contact for the patients, coordinating all hospital visits related to their trial while it runs, generally over a period of two-and-a-half to three years.
Nominees for the Research Support Staff of the Year award are put forward by their colleagues, with Walsh’s team mates describing her as someone who “always goes beyond the call of duty” to put the needs of patients first as part of a special thank you video put together for the event.
Walsh said: "I feel privileged to be involved in caring for patients who are undergoing one of the most challenging situations life can throw at them, and I hope that in most instances over the years I have made their journey a little more bearable at least. I love my job, and I think that comes across and helps patients feel more at ease going through treatment within the clinical trial setting."
On her award, she added: "It’s great to get the feedback from colleagues to say ‘you’re doing a good job and we appreciate you being around’, and that’s something I’m very proud of."
She also thanked the Irish Cancer Society and all those who raised funds to support the research carried out by her team.
Irish Cancer Society Head of Research Dr Robert O’Connor congratulated Walsh on her award saying: "We’re delighted that such a dedicated and talented research nurse has won the award this year against stiff competition from so many other worthy entrants. The work that Jessica and her colleagues do in cancer centres across Ireland is often unsung but pivotal in enabling improvements in the care of people affected by cancer."