Claudine Jreissaty claims UT MD Anderson's highest nurse-oncologist honor

Arceneaux Award honors surgical breast oncology nurse at Sugar Land regional clinic

MD Anderson News Release 06/08/12

Claudine Jreissaty, RN, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is the recipient of the 2012 Ethel Fleming Arceneaux Outstanding Nurse-Oncologist Award. Established by The Brown Foundation, Inc. in 1982, the award is the institution's highest nursing honor.

A committee of MD Anderson's clinical faculty, patient care administration and nursing staff reviewed award nominations by peers and patients. They narrowed the selection to three finalists before ultimately naming Jreissaty as their top choice. She works in MD Anderson's Sugar Land Regional Care Center surgical breast oncology clinic.

Jreissaty will receive a cash award of $15,000, a crystal plaque and a commemorative pin at 11 a.m. June 18 in the AT&T Auditorium in MD Anderson's Clark Clinic, Main Building. Ronald DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson president, will lead the award ceremony.

She learned of the honor in a surprise announcement this week as co-workers, friends and patients greeted her with a plaque, a bouquet of flowers and an uproar of applause.

"It's such a privilege to receive an award for something I love to do," Jreissaty says. "I'm honored to be a nurse at this institution and to receive this prestigious award."

Jreissaty has been at MD Anderson since February 2008, when she joined the institution's Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at the Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic.

"I was overjoyed to work at the world's premier cancer center and to collaborate side-by-side with teams of experts," she says.

Jreissaty began work as a clinical nurse at the Sugar Land Regional Care Center's Medical Oncology and Hematology clinic in 2010. She's worked as a clinical nurse in the surgical breast oncology clinic since January of this year.

"I consider MD Anderson my big family," Jreissaty says. "I want to be part of a great change in this world by impacting those who may have lost hope."

She recently created two binders that have been adopted for training purposes at MD Anderson's four regional care centers. One contains guidelines for new employees caring for patients in the community, and the other outlines frequently used chemotherapy treatments and their side effects.

Jreissaty's first experience with cancer occurred when she was only 8 years old, after her father was diagnosed with brain cancer and died a few months into his treatment. Eighteen years later, her sister, Josiane, was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was 22 when the disease took her life three weeks after surgery.

"Looking back, I always knew I wanted to help others," Jreissaty says. "Showing empathy and understanding how patients feel is very important. Nursing helps me focus outside of myself. It's rewarding when a patient's family trusts you to care for their loved one."

Jreissaty was born near Beirut, Lebanon, where she graduated from nursing school in 1997. She held various nursing positions in her home country before moving to the United States in 2004 to receive her Texas nursing license.

"I had one goal in mind: to help people through their journeys with cancer," she says. "The opportunities given to me at MD Anderson have enabled the greatest accomplishments that I've made in my life." 06/08/12