1. Gray, Mikel PhD, CUNP, CCCN, FAAN

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Sometimes, even news that is not surprising can still hit like a body blow. Although we knew Beverly Hampton was fighting breast cancer and leukemia, her indomitable spirit, her fighting attitude, and her pragmatic courage in the face of adversity created a pervasive attitude of hope, progress, accomplishment, and persistence. Therefore, it was with the most profound sadness that friends and colleagues heard of Beverly's death in McKinney, Texas, on October 4, 2006. Beverly is survived by her husband, Herman, who often traveled to professional seminars and meetings with Beverly, and her 4 children, Ingrid, Gretchen, Christa, and Erich. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren, a profound accomplishment and testament in itself.


However, Beverly's legacy extends even further than her large and loving family. Beverly was Director of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer WOC Nurse Education Program for 20 years. In this position, she was primarily responsible for teaching and mentoring more than 600 WOC nurses, a veritable who's who in our specialty. Program graduates remember her as a knowledgeable teacher who used pragmatic and humorous approaches to clinical and classroom instruction. Former student and current WOCNEP Program Director Coni Ellis commented, "Beverly taught me never to say no, and, as they say on the army recruiting posters, be all you can be." Another former student, Kenda Ekdahl, remembered how she "always made me laugh and see the humor in all bad things." Many colleagues taught and influenced by Beverly, shared similar sentiments, and this is the very attitude that helps patients survive and thrive despite profound wounds, ostomies that challenge body image in a patient already struggling to recover from cancer or multisystem trauma, or incontinence in the face of increasing frailty. The outlook on life that Beverly taught is clearly essential to both caring for our patients and providing them with the skills to cope and regain a sense of dignity when faced with a chronic wound, new ostomy, or incontinence.


As was typical of many aspects of Beverly's life, she was not content with merely directing the M.D. Anderson Cancer WOC Nurse Education Program (a more than full-time job in itself). She was passionate about nursing education, and traveled around rural Texas 5 times each year teaching oncology nursing (including principles of WOC nursing) for the Texas Nurse Oncology Program and Polo on the Prairie Program. Her involvement with the Oncology Nursing Society extended to the national level, and she frequently lectured at national ONS seminars.


Another colleague and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of ET Nursing, Dot Smith, noted that "whether she was teaching at M.D. Anderson, at a rural location in Texas, or the podium of a national conference, Beverly crossed all levels of education and experience to make learning fun and meaningful." Thousands of other nurses agreed with this assessment of Beverly. WOCN Society President Margaret Goldberg recalls that Beverly's style of educating was unique and included much amusement along with learning. In addition to lecturing to students at M.D. Anderson and rural locations throughout Texas, Beverly was an invited lecturer at the South Central Region WOCN, the WOCN National Conference, and the Oncology Nursing Society. She also addressed attendees at the World Council of Enterostomal Therapy in South Africa and Austria, and she originated a WOC certification program given annually at the WOCN Conference and the Clinical Symposium on Advances in Skin & Wound Care.

Photo/courtesy of Ja... - Click to enlarge in new windowPhoto/courtesy of Janet M. Davis and the UTMDACC WOCNEP.

Beverly received multiple awards for her contributions to nursing and WOC nursing in particular, including the Texas Nurses Association District 9 Nurse of the Year, South Central Region WOC/ET Outstanding Nurse of the Year, M.D. Anderson ET Nurse of the Year, and Ohio State University School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award. Do not be surprised if you are unaware of the number and nature of these awards. Typical of Beverly's personality, she was less interested in telling you about an award than telling you about the latest complex patient case she was managing, or sharing her unflagging passion for ensuring that ostomy care remains at the heart of our specialty practice. This dedication to ostomy care is clearly reflected in her contribution as coeditor of the first edition of our ostomy core curricular textbook, and her authorship of multiple articles focusing on ostomy care in peer-reviewed professional journals.


It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to summarize the profound impact of Beverly's career on WOC nursing in a few lines or a few hundred pages. Our specialty practice is unique in that we all receive specialty education from a comparatively small number of teaching programs. Because of this, the influence of the WOCNEP Program Directors is particularly important to our identity as WOC/ET nurses and our practice. Yet, even in this rarified group, Beverly stood out as an example of excellence. As her successor, Coni Ellis phrased it, "I would not be where I am without her." I can imagine no more fitting epithet for a woman who dedicated her entire career to teaching others to care and give, and to go beyond our career expectations.