The month of May is recognized as Oncology Nursing Month. However, nurses in all fields are honored throughout the month with National Nurses Week (May 6-12), National Nurses Day (May 6), National School Nurse Day (May 7), National Student Nurses' Day (May 8) and International Nurses Day (May 12).
DeAnna Bagwell, the administrator of the Walker Cancer Care Center, said she and others were not only celebrating National Oncology Nurses Week, but they were also honoring a special nurse who was saying goodbye to the cancer center after years of service as a nurse.
“Today is 25 years of retirement for one of my oncology nurses, Judy Pinion. Judy’s been here in this particular location almost 10 years, but with the Baptist organization for 25 years,” Bagwell said. “Her last day of work was yesterday [Wednesday], and ironically, this is National Oncology Nurses Week, so we’re celebrating that and 25 years of her service, just tying the two together.”
Pinion knew she wanted to be a nurse at a young age.
Before televisions were a common item in every household, Pinion said her mother would listen to a story on a particular radio station and the nurse’s name she would tune into was named “Judy,” which is what she chose to name her daughter.
When she was a little girl, her mother had made Pinion a nursing uniform that included a little hat and white dress. At 15, Pinion started working at the old Community Hospital in Jasper as a nursing assistant.
“Nursing is all I’ve ever done. I’ve done it, like I said, since I was 15 years old,” Pinion said. “I went right out of high school and made an LPN and worked for 20 years as an LPN, and then in my older years, I went back and received my RN degree.”
She worked for 16 years at Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham and then transferred to the Walker Cancer Cancer Center, where she has worked for the past nine years.
“As an oncology nurse, I’ve found out that my patients always gave me more than what I could have possibly ever given them. They are so appreciative of anything that you could possibly do for them,” Pinion said about her career. “I think nursing in general is a calling from God. I think you need to be called because it’s such a job where you’re there to help people, and that’s what you’re suppose to do as a Christian.”
Pinion was surrounded by friends, family and coworkers Thursday evening in the foyer of the cancer center. She and others enjoyed reminiscing and refreshments at her retirement party.
“Judy is known as the ‘cute nurse,’ and she has been known to threaten the patients if they don’t straighten up with a little hickory,” said Pinion’s coworker and friend of nine years, Dee Stuckey, who is the cancer center’s registrar. “But, there’s not another nurse like Judy.”
Pinion has two children, three grandchildren and plans on being a full-time “granny” as her next occupation.
Pinion said her retirement is somewhat bittersweet because she’s ready to spend more time with her family, but she hates leaving her work family behind.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings, good and bad. I hate leaving my patients and my coworkers because they’re family,” Pinion said. “I’m excited about going to my family to have some good play time and quality time with them, so there’s just a lot of mixed feelings about it.”
When asked if Pinion had any special memories or stories from her 25 years as a nurse, she laughed and said, “There are thousands. I don’t know that you could print all of that.
“You learn that there are days as an oncology nurse that your patients and your other staff members, you just shed tears and some of them are tears of joy and some of them are tears of sadness,” she continued. “But, as an oncology nurse, they’ve just become part of your life.”