Many years of personal, family and work experience with cancer led Leslie Heron (formerly, Vietmeier) to join the Survivorship Program as a nurse practitioner.
"Having been through cancer diagnosis, treatment, remissions, palliative care and deaths with family members, friends and patients, I have cared for and interacted with people with cancer all of my life," she said. "I worked in hospice as a new registered nurse many years ago, so working with cancer survivors seems a wonderful way to bring my years of health care experience full circle."
Heron has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Washington and was board certified in family practice in 1994. But she didn’t always want to go into nursing.
"I started my college career with the goal of teaching literature and theatre at the high school level," she said. "However, I became interested in nursing after my grandmother went through care for metastatic bone cancer. When it was time to make a decision regarding education or nursing, nursing won out."
Before joining the Survivorship Program, Heron spent more than 18 years in family practice, providing primary care in independent clinic settings in the greater Seattle area. She also worked in the public health arena both as a registered nurse and as an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Heron has been a master’s-level preceptor and lecturer for the UW School of Nursing for many years, and she continues to enjoy participating in community outreach and health education.
"I have a strong commitment to collaborative care with patients," Heron said of her personal patient care philosophy. "I feel that knowing a patient’s experience, background, goals for care, as well as family and support network, is essential for the success of our interaction and, ultimately, the patient’s satisfaction with their health care experience. "
Heron believes patients can be empowered to practice excellent self-care through education, encouragement and links to resources that can help them meet their goals now and in the future.
"I hope to help patients expand their support network as needed, connect into primary care, learn how to cope with long-term side effects of their cancer and cancer treatments, and to know when and if they need to reconnect with their oncologist or other specialists," she said. "Accepting patients where they are now and helping them set goals and gain knowledge is my role in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Survivorship Clinic."
Outside of work, Heron loves to garden, kayak, walk, travel, read and cook. "Yoga and meditation keep me on track," she said, "and spending time with my daughters and dancing keeps me young!"