My experience since winning the RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award

Verna Lavender explains how winning an RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award has changed her role and working life. 

Verna Lavender
Verna Lavender

Winning the RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award 2016 has been a fantastic accolade for the Bone Cancer Research Trust Perceptions of teenage and young adult patients and Professionals Participation in clinical trials (BCRT-PoPP) study team.

When I read the e-mail about the RCNi award, sponsored by Cancer Research UK, I contacted Susie Pearce, principal investigator for the project, to see what she thought about us submitting an application. Susie wasn’t able to lead this at the time, but was happy for me to do so and represent the research team in applying for the award.

Enter the Excellence in Cancer Research Award or the Cancer Nursing Practice Award 2018 here

To our surprise, we were shortlisted. Great news, but like the other candidates shortlisted, I was then very busy for a few weeks preparing for an interview in London, having publicity photographs taken and responding to media requests.

Winning the RCNi Award has shone a light on the BCRT-PoPP study

We were even more delighted to win the award, which was announced at the RCNi Award ceremony, Park Plaza hotel at Westminster Bridge in May. It was a heart-warming event celebrating the work of nurses across the UK and I felt honoured that our study won an award.

Publicity prize

The publicity has, however, been the true prize. Winning significantly raised the profile of our research published in the European Journal of Cancer Care (Pearce et al 2016), which highlighted the importance of age-appropriate care for teenagers and young adults with cancer, their needs when contemplating participation in clinical trials and the role of nurses in supporting young people with bone sarcoma through this process.

  • Read more about the research here 

The feature in the July 2016 edition of Cancer Nursing Practice was a terrific bonus, and it was great to share this news on the Bone Cancer Research Trust website, Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Professionals newsletter, and websites and newsletters of the research team.

Since May, I have been asked to speak at various bone sarcoma, NIHR and Cancer Research UK events. I was also invited to represent the European Oncology Nurses Society (EONS) to work with European Cancer Organisation (ECCO) developing sarcoma quality care guidelines. As the only nurse in this working group, I felt privileged and responsible for ensuring nurses were recognised as central to the delivery of quality care (not previously the case in many European health care guidelines).

Honour, challenge and opening doors

Luckily I’ve had terrific support from Dr Claire Taylor, who represented EONS in developing ECCO’s colorectal cancer guidelines, and Professor Daniel Kelly, President of EONS. Representing EONS has been an honour, a challenge, and an amazing opportunity.

The RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award was funded by Cancer Research UK. The BCRT-PoPP team were grateful to Cancer Research UK for sponsoring this award; the prize money covered expenses for attending the award ceremony and speaking at subsequent events.

I’d rather not be in the limelight, but winning the RCNi Award has shone a light on the BCRT-PoPP study and provided brilliant opportunities, so I’d encourage anyone whose work meets the RCNi Awards eligibility criteria to have a go at applying for 2017. Good luck!  


Pearce S, Brownsdon A, Fern L et al (2016) The Perceptions of Teenagers, Young Adults and Professionals in the participation of Bone Cancer Clinical Trials. European Journal of Cancer Care. Early view online: doi: 10.1111/ecc.12476

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