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The Power of Philanthropy: Nurses Step Up in Fight Against Cancer

February 2013

The definition of philanthropy is the desire to promote, or the promotion of, the well-being and quality of life of human beings. Many would say the same thing about nurses – the act of caring tends to be synonymous with the nursing profession, and many people choose nursing as a career because they want to care for other individuals. Throughout their work day, nurses contribute their time and effort to improving the lives of others, which in turn builds trust with their patients and community.

This trust and positive influence can be leveraged to help further improve public health outcomes. There are countless ways nursing skills and knowledge lend themselves to volunteerism, advocacy and activism, and many nurses go above and beyond their careers by helping non-profit organizations to make a difference for people facing health-related struggles. By working in collaboration with other initiatives, nurses can further extend their passion for caring for people.

One example of a nurse going a step further in helping others is Jennifer Flynn, RN, BSN, CPHON at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo. For the last couple of years, Flynn has attended local events hosted by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity funding research to find cures for childhood cancers. The Foundation is widely recognized for its head-shaving events as a way to raise funds for cancer research. After attending several events, Flynn and her nursing colleague, Lauren Steinmetz, RN, BSN, CPHON, CPN at Children’s Hospital Colorado, decided that they wanted to shave their heads, too. Their team name is BALD NURSES, and to date, they have raised nearly $4,000.

“I’ve always loved going to the events to watch as the participants get their heads shaved. It’s a fun way to raise money for an extremely worthy cause. Plus, I can see how it positively impacts cancer patients,” said Flynn. “We’re shaving our heads for the benefit of our patients. The money raised will go to giving them a better chance of survival and the hope of finding a cure. There’s no better reason than that.”

Gay-Lynne Jones, RN, Regional Director of Cancer Services at Altus Healthcare Management Service in Beaumont, Tex., is another example of a nurse helping to support a philanthropic initiative. Jones has been participating in American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events at the community and national level since 1994.

“Relay for Life provides people with great ways to come together and support cancer patients and survivors in their own local communities. Whether it’s raising funds for research or sharing valuable educational resources for patients and their caregivers, Relay for Life makes a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer,” said Jones.

Participating in events like Relay for Life can introduce you to others who are facing similar challenges, and provide you with opportunities for learning, sharing and friendship. For nurses in particular, philanthropic events are a great way to get involved in something outside of work, while still being able to make a difference in the lives of patients.

“The value of participating in philanthropies is significant and indescribable – your efforts can help restore people’s hope, provide inspiration and offer resources that all work together to help change lives. I’m so proud to be a part of an initiative that can so greatly help others,” said Jones.

To learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its head-shaving fundraisers, visit

For more information about how you can participate in a Relay for Life event, visit

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