The 2019 UNC Lineberger, Sylvia Lauterborn and Warren Trent Piver Oncology Nursing Fellows were recognized at a luncheon in their honor on Friday, June 21. This year’s fellows are Bekah Friday, Celina Jimenez, Hayley Nusser and Gabriela Valchanova.

The fellowship program was designed to stimulate and foster professional development in oncology nursing among rising seniors at the UNC School of Nursing. The six-week program includes both inpatient and outpatient experiences, working closely with oncology nurses to better understand the nurses’ role with symptom management, clinical trials, and best practices in providing supportive care services.

The UNC Lineberger, Sylvia Lauterborn and Warren Trent Piver Oncology Nursing Fellowship was generously provided by Mr. Robert “Bob” Lauterborn, a supporter of Lineberger and the NC Cancer Hospital, where his wife, Sylvia, received excellent cancer nursing care, and by Laura Carlo Piver to honor her husband who had cancer, in the belief that nurses bring unique knowledge, skills, perspective and caring to cancer care.

About Bob and Sylvia Lauterborn

Having seen most of this world, Sylvia Lauterborn set off on her last great adventure on Memorial Day 2013. Born in Crumlin, Wales on May 1, 1939 – prophetically, International Day – Sylvia Ann Stebbings was a student nurse at Charing Cross hospital in London, a nursery school teacher, and a wages clerk for British Rail before being chosen to be a stewardess for famed Pan American Airways – one of only 50 out of 500 applicants in the UK.While in training for Pan Am in Queens, NY, she met Bob Lauterborn, who was on a training program for GE at the same time. They were married September 28, 1963. She and Bob moved from Scarsdale, NY to Chapel Hill in 1986 when he joined the faculty at UNC. She worked at Fine Feathers and later managed The Cotton Boll. Over more than 50 years of travel, Sylvia visited 83 countries, first as a stewardess, then with Bob as he taught all over the world. The cause of her death was pancreatic cancer, but the cause of her life was making other people happy.

Her wish was for her ashes to be sprinkled at sea, so she can reach all the countries she missed.

About Laura Piver and Warren Trent Piver

Warren, a PhD Chemical Engineer, possessed a deep-seated scientific curiosity about a broad range of environmental issues.  He was internationally recognized for his work on groundwater contamination and climate change. At age 44, he underwent aggressive chemotherapy at UNC for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  An autologous bone marrow transplant at The Dana Faber followed, as that program didn’t yet exist at UNC. During the ensuing thirteen years in which he was cancer-free, Warren saw sons married, a daughter in college, volunteered with his church and in the community, and excelled professionally. Fifteen years after his original diagnosis, Warren succumbed to Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Excellent medical care, and especially knowledgeable, compassionate nursing care were vital pillars in his life story.

It is a privilege to assist in the preparation of future Oncology nurses.

2019 Fellows

Bekah Friday
My grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was 12. I saw him battle every day for four years before he died. My best friend’s mother was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma when we were 18. Her mom fought for three years before losing her battle due to an infection. Cancer does not discriminate and its patients are diverse. Nearly everyone knows somebody whose story has been changed by this disease, yet many people do not fully understand what cancer patients live through. These patients deserve doctors and nurses who are not only experts and professionals but also supporters in the midst of their pain, exhaustion, joy, and resilience.  Someday I desire to help implement change so that I can improve cancer care and this fellowship would help me begin my journey.

Celina Jimenez
My interest in oncology nursing stems from watching close family battle cancer. Until recently, I grouped all cancer patients under the same umbrella: warriors fighting illness, undergoing chemo, losing hair, and becoming frail. During the 10th Annual Coping with Cancer Symposium, I realized that cancer rarely looks the same for any two people. This program would give me a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the real and multifaceted nature of oncology. My passion for direct patient and family care, deep curiosity for oncology, and previous experience makes this program the perfect next step in my educational career.

Hayley Nusser
I would be excited to participate in the UNC Oncology Nursing Fellowship Program in order to gain experience working on a full-time schedule, and learning on a more consistent basis than clinical allows. Having a more constant amount of clinical experience would allow me to grow so much throughout one summer while learning from some of the best nurses. In addition to being appreciative of the considerable amount of experience I would be gaining, I am passionate about working in oncology. I was fortunate to have had my Med/Surg clinical on 4 Oncology, where I learned so much about providing care to patients and comforting family members who have been affected by cancer. I was inspired while caring for these patients to dedicate my career to working in oncology, and I know that this program would provide me with a great foundation for my future.

Gabriela Valchanova
Cancer is merciless and unforgiving. I know because I have witnessed it and have been consumed by the grief that follows when a loved one passes. I was in my first year of high school when I learned that stage four colon cancer had claimed the life of my Bulgarian grandmother. I remember that day so vividly, sitting across my computer screen on a Skype call with my grandfather as he and I mustered the strength to accept our new reality: one without my beloved “Baba.” My eyes welled with tears and my voice began to shake. Thousands of miles separated her life from mine as she took her last breaths. I wanted so desperately to leap through the computer and hold onto her one last time. How could cancer take away such a beautiful spirit? My grandmother’s story is like that of so many others. Rounds of chemotherapy and radiation that seem unending.


Thank you to Assistant Professor Ashley Leak-Bryant, PhD, RN-BC, OCN, who has served as the program’s coordinator for four years, and Frances Hill Fox Distinguished Professor Deborah Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, for their support in administering this program!

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