Oncology Nurses Recognized for Excellence in Patient Care, Advocacy and Leadership


More than FCS 40 nurses were nominated by their peers and fellow team members for their superior quality of oncology nursing and leadership capabilities.

Ft. Myers, Fla., May 11, 2022 — Each May during Oncology Nursing Month, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC (FCS) recognizes two outstanding nurses within the practice. More than 40 nurses were nominated by their peers and fellow team members for their superior quality of oncology nursing and leadership capabilities. Nominees were considered for two nursing excellence awards: patient care and advocacy, and leadership.

This year, the Excellence in Nursing Care Award was renamed after a previous winner, Brandi Riber, a nurse from the FCS Fort Myers Cancer Center who lost her own battle with cancer late last year. Brandi was known among patients for her compassionate, empathetic care and was an advocate for advancing research and clinical trials for metastatic breast cancer patients.

The winner of the 2022 FCS Brandi Riber Patient Care and Advocacy Award, Frances “Jade” Valencia, RN, BSN, OCN, was revealed in a ceremony at the FCS Lakewood Ranch Cancer Center on Friday, May 6 on National Nurses Day. As Team Lead, Jade is the “solid rock” that the FCS Lakewood Ranch Nursing and Pharmacy teams rely on daily. She never shies away from any task and proactively jumps in to help keep the clinic running smoothly. She greets patients by first name and displays unfaltering kindness and patience to all. Her colleagues admire her special ability to handle difficult situations with her calm and reassuring manner.

The 2022 FCS Excellence in Nursing Leadership Award was presented to Patricia Morehead, RN who leads a nursing team at the FCS Lake Nona Cancer Center. Patricia is described as a leader who communicates effectively and always makes time to listen, teach and go the extra mile for her staff — demonstrating concern and empathy for all. In addition to being an outstanding clinical nurse manager, she is admired by her FCS Lake Nona colleagues for being an exceptional oncology nurse, who genuinely cares about what she does and for the special connections she develops with patients. Patricia serves as a role model for all. It was noted on her nomination that, “She is the difference that she wants to see, every day.”

“Our nurses are essential to our mission at FCS in providing world-class care close to home and are unrivaled when it comes to patient care,” said FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan H. Walcker. “We are so very fortunate – as are our patients – to have such a talented and compassionate team of nurses.”

“Beyond clinical prowess, so much of what makes an outstanding nurse is the ability to connect with patients, their families and caregivers, to put them ease throughout their cancer journey. I witness our nurses in action every day, balancing the full spectrum of emotions and responsibilities, and they do it all with ease and integrity. FCS could not deliver the high-quality care our patients both deserve and expect if it weren’t for them. It is an honor and a privilege to work alongside them and recognize them with these awards,” remarked FCS President & Managing Physician Michael Diaz, MD.

Dr. Diaz also recognizes each of the nominees, all who demonstrate compassion, nursing expertise, leadership skill and a commitment to patient advocacy.

Nominees for Brandi Riber Patient Care and Advocacy Award

  • Kellie Ackernecht, RN, OCN
  • Melissa Anderson, RN
  • Vanessa Adrover, RN
  • Alison Bradshaw, RN
  • Dawn Michelle Callahan, RN
  • Nicole Cracchiola, RN
  • Mariah Dunniway, RN
  • Hannah Granger, RN
  • Isabela Mateo, RN
  • Holly Mills, RN, OCN
  • Caroline Peacock, RN, OCN
  • Amanda Renshaw, LPN
  • Catherine Ruck, RN, OCN
  • Leslie Selph, LPN
  • Chanel Tomick, RN
  • Frances “Jade” Valencia, RN, BSN, OCN
  • Tamara Witte, RN

Nominees for Excellence in Nursing Leadership Award

  • Gretchen Abbott, RN, OCN
  • Jessica Anderson, RN, BSN, OCN
  • Melissa Anderson, RN
  • Cheryl Brerenton, RN, OCN
  • Julie Brown, RN, OCN
  • Theresa Calabello, RN
  • Melissa Clough, RN, OCN
  • Lorraine Collins, RN
  • Nicole Cracchiola, RN
  • Jessica Rios Cruz, LPN
  • Christina Drobneck, RN, OCN
  • Cristina Estipona, RN, OCN
  • Mukabajumba Gafabusa, RN
  • Kelli Hutton, RN, OCN
  • Dawn Landolph, RN, BSN, MPA
  • Christina Mason, RN
  • Trudy McDonald, RN, OCN
  • Brittany Moe, RN, BSN, OCN
  • Patricia Morehead, RN
  • Izzy Olivera, RN, OCN
  • Rennae Revell, RN, OCN
  • Becton Roddenberry, RN, BSN, OCN, CEN, EMT-P
  • Ashley Rollins, LPN
  • Catherine Ruck, RN, OCN
  • Frances “Jade” Valencia, RN, BSN, OCN
  • Teresa Warner, RN, OCN

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About Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute
Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. Over the past 5 years, the majority of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with Florida Cancer Specialists participation.* Trained in such prestigious medical schools and research institutes as Duke, Stanford, Harvard, Emory, MD Anderson, and Memorial Sloan Kettering, our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report.

Florida Cancer Specialists has built a national reputation for excellence that is reflected in exceptional and compassionate patient care, driven by innovative clinical research, cutting-edge technologies, and advanced treatments, including targeted therapies, genomic-based treatment, and immunotherapy. Our values are embodied by our outstanding team of highly trained and dedicated physicians, clinicians, and staff.

*Prior to approval

For More Information:
Michelle Robey, Vice President of Marketing
(813) 767-9398

Jen Bradley, Director Corporate Communications
(847) 280-1740

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