By: Joan Stewart, RT(T), BA HCA Clinical Services Project Coordinator, TCCC
A very dear colleague in cancer care has decided to retire. Jannette Weber, the Director of Palliative Care at Chaplaincy Health has announced her retirement as of June 1st this year. While my association with Jannette has been a short eight years, her influence on me and other professionals I have worked with has been profound. She has a special skill that was forged of compassion for those who are facing end of life choices. She has taught many how to help both patient and caregiver seek quality over quantity, comfort rather than one last chemo. Physicians are taught to cure. Jannette taught them how to care enough to let their patient live, even if that meant no more treatment and the soft landing one finds in hospice.
We would like to thank her husband for finding Jannette in Newfoundland, Canada, and relocating her here. She started her nursing career at Grace General Hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland and spent three years in various roles until she married an American serviceman named Ray Weber. It was 1981 when Jannette left her homeland to start a new life in the Tri-Cities with Ray. Now, more than 35 years later, Jannette’s impact on our health care community is immeasurable.
Jannette was one of the first oncology nurses in the Tri-Cities. She remembers well those first chemotherapies and the toll they took on the patient. Cancer care had very few options then and even fewer ways to minimize the side effects. Patients got very sick and many did not win the fight. Could the challenges faced with this type of care be the muse that moved her towards the palliative care and quality of life choices she has championed for the past 25 years?
There are few oncology nurses in the Tri-Cities that have not worked with Jannette. She mentored many a nurse and many leaned on her for guidance and growth. Jannette left her work in oncology in1993 and accepted a RN position at the Chaplaincy where she wore many hats and helped build a renowned program. After 20 years at the Chaplaincy she ventured back to oncology and in 2012 she joined the group at Trios Oncology as a Nurse Navigator. While the choices for chemo and cure were improving, the need for support when the choice for care is no longer cure never diminished. Again she offered guidance and growth like no other could have.
Jannette’s passion for palliative care and hospice was rekindled in 2014 and she returned to Chaplaincy Health. Her impact on end of life care in the Tri Cities took on a new life as she developed a comprehensive palliative care program from the ground up. Over her storied career at Chaplaincy, Jannette has been a Patient Coordinator, Director of Hospice, Community Liaison and now in her final role as Director of Palliative Care. There is no medical provider in the Tri-Cities that does not think of Jannette Weber when thinking of palliative care and hospice. Her efforts towards teaching and understanding this special type of care will continue to bear fruit long into the future.
As we all know, Jannette has been a strong contributor to the Tri-Cities health care community but Jannette’s impact has also been felt at the state level. She served on the Washington State Hospice and Palliative Care Organization for over thirteen years including one year as President. She also spent many years on the regional board for the American Cancer Society. She was one of the founding members of the Columbia Basin Oncology Nursing Society. For her ONS chapter she worked on fund-raising and coordination of continuing education events. Her sense of purpose and commitment to community will undoubtedly keep her engaged with us after retirement, just in a different fashion.
In any case, thank you Jannette for all you have done and all you have inspired us to do!