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Award honors Longview cancer nurses for commitment to patients

By Angela Ward
Nov. 10, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Two Longview nurses were recognized recently for their commitment to cancer patients.

The recipients of the 2012 Laura Blanche Jackson Oncology Nursing Award are Deborah Crager, an employee of Hearts Way Hospice, and Marge Self, an employee of Texas Oncology-Longview Cancer Center.

"I'm speechless," Self said. "I work with so many incredible nurses, all of whom are deserving of this award."

Self has been a nurse for 19 years, 12 of which have been spent in oncology - six at Good Shepherd Medical Center and six at Texas Oncology.

"This is what I'm called to do with my life," Self said. "I lost my husband to cancer, and it inspired me to go do this as a career."

Crager has been a nurse since 1987, but has worked in health care since the 1970s. She was worked in oncology for the past five years.

"I'm very humbled by this award," Crager said. "I'm doing something I love; it's a mission and a ministry for me."

Crager said she has lost two husbands to cancer and her sister is battling the disease, so she knows what her patients and their family members are going through.

"I just keep in mind what it was like for my family members and treat my patients like I wanted them to be treated," Crager said.

The award is named after Laura Jackson, who died of cancer in 1992. Her parents, Frank and Darba Jackson, wanted a way to honor the nurses who had helped her. Longtime family friends John and Leah Darby helped establish the foundation to fund the awards.

Crager and Self each received $1,500 grants. Although there are no stipulations on how the money is used, most of the 35 recipients during the past 19 years have used it for furthering their education, John Darby said.

"We choose the recipients based on the professional accomplishments and human characteristics," he said. "We look for people who are willing to go that extra mile in their commitment to their patients."

Laura Jackson frequently told her parents that she appreciated the care she received from her nurses and wanted to do something nice in return for them, John Darby said.

"Establishing a fund to reward nurses seemed to be the most appropriate way to honor her memory," he said.

Nominees for the award come from several Longview clinics, hospitals and hospice organizations.



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