Now and Forever
Oncology Nursing

. :  ONIGA-South 2015 Chapter Award Honoree


ONIGA-South has identified, interviewed, and awarded our OND Chapter Award Honoree to Theo Johnston.



Theo Johnston, RN, BN.

Breast Tumor Group Nurse Coordinator

Theo Johnston entered nursing at the Kingston General Hospital in 1970.  In 1973, she found herself in Calgary, Alberta at the Holy Cross Hospital with general female and gynecological surgery.  She took some time off her nursing career to raise her three children, and even traveled to Malaysia and Abudabi while they were young.

She returned to nursing at the Rockyview General Hospital in urology after completing her refresher course in 1988.  Theo pursued further education by entering the post-diploma program and completing her Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Calgary in 1995.

In 1996, after a request for a specific surgeon’s recommendation and a very daunting interview by one of our oncologists, Theo began oncology nursing at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC).  She recounts that the surgeon’s recommendation included the glowing review, “she is a nice lady, she won’t give you any trouble”.  She has been in ambulatory oncology at the TBCC ever since.

Theo is most proud of creating the Breast Tumour Group Coordinator role.  This endeavor began in 2007 with a joint pilot project between Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health & Wellness.  The outcomes were clear around the importance of the role and expertise of experienced oncology nurses.  In fact, it was so successful that it is currently an operational nursing position in almost all tumour sites at TBCC.  Her hard work and dedication to her patients was recognized in 2009 at the CANO Conference in Montreal with the AstraZeneca Award.

Interestingly, Theo’s nursing career will have a serendipitous closing as she will be retiring this Fall, back working at the Holy Cross site.  When asked what she plans to do in retirement, Theo responded, “I will do anything I want, any time I want to”, which includes spending time with her grandkids, 13-year-old dog Maxine, and her new grandchild who is due in June.  Theo’s retirement is well-deserved; she has been a mentor and inspiration to all nurses who have been fortunate to work with her.

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