Peggy Neese, BSN, RN, OCN, Director of Cancer Center at Pottstown Hospital, began in 1979. 

Peggy Neese

What departments have you worked in during your tenure at the hospital? 

When I started with the cancer program with Pottstown Hospital in 1979, I was the only nurse and the hospital didn’t have an oncologist in the cancer center. At the time physicians from Reading Hospital would come to Pottstown two days a week. Our program was very small. Now we have 14 nurses, three medical oncologists, one radiation oncologist, and two nurse practitioners. 

Why did you want to be a nurse? 

When I was in high school, I worked part-time at a nursing home after school. While working there, I helped to take care of a lot of cancer patients. They always had such a special spirit, had so much to share, and they were very appreciative of everything you did for them. I was blessed to work with them and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a nurse and continue to take care of cancer patients. 

Why do you love working at Tower Health? 

I love being part of the hospital and the entire Pottstown community. We are fortunate our community cares about the hospital and is so supportive of our efforts. Every team member at Pottstown Hospital is here for our patients and they are the top priority. 

As Director of the Cancer Center, I’m also lucky that our Administrative team always provides the support and resources needed to maintain and grow the program. Cancer is a disease that affects the patient and their family. I’m proud to be a part of the team providing services that keep people close to home for treatment so their family can be a part of their recovery. 

What keeps you at Tower Health?

I love what I do. 

I enjoy the team I work with and the patients we care for. People often ask me why I stayed in the same department for so long. I always tell them, “It’s not the same job.” Over the course of my tenure, the program has grown, the team has grown, technologies and treatments have evolved to include more life-changing options, and it has been exciting to be a part of all of it. 

Peggy Neese

What are some of your memorable career accomplishments? 

The biggest accomplishment was starting the cancer center at Pottstown Hospital! In 1981, we hired the first physician who also served as medical director for the program. We continue to build a strong team to provide the best care for our community. We are accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American College of Radiation Oncology. We also received the Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award for five consecutive survey cycles, one of only six hospitals nationwide to achieve this. I’m proud of these awards because the team works very hard to meet, and in many cases, exceed the qualifications needed to obtain the recognition. We are all proud of these accomplishments. They speak to the team’s commitment to our patients and our health system. 

Personally, in 1994, I was the first nurse in the country to be named Oncology Nurse of the Year by Oncology Nursing Society/Certification Corporation. Our staff and patients worked together on the nomination. I was thrilled to be recognized and receive such an honor.

What motivates you to continue to care for patients in the community? 

The patients themselves are such an inspiration. Their strength and courage inspire and motivate our team. 

Do you have a memorable patient story?

I could talk for hours about all the patients who have made an impact on me, and each has their own unique story. One of our patients has had a very lengthy treatment program due to the nature of his diagnosis. At the beginning of each appointment, he takes our hand and thanks us for caring for him. We also treat a handful of young adults and most respond very well to their treatment. However, their treatments are often very aggressive, and they fight so hard not only during their treatment but at home as well – they continue to work and raise their families. It’s truly inspiring.  

We also get to know our patients’ families very well because they are so supportive and attend all the patient’s appointments and treatment sessions. Each of these relationships are special in their own way.

Peggy Neese, BSN, RN, OCN

What is the best thing about being a nurse? 

It’s very rewarding to help someone and put a smile on their face. People often ask how I work in the cancer center. It’s difficult at times, but it’s also exciting to see our patients live longer with new treatments and technologies. And, on the days when a patient and family have a difficult decision to make, we are there to hold their hand and provide comfort. There is always something we can do for our patients. 

What is the most challenging thing about being a nurse?

We are blessed the health system provides us with the resources we need to provide high-quality care for our patients. For me, the biggest challenge is time. In the cancer center we really get to know our patients during the course of their treatment, and they are so inspiring. I wish I could talk with them a little longer to listen and just be there for them and talk about their family, and how they are feeling. 

What are you most proud of in your nursing career?

I’m extremely proud of the strong care team I had a part in building and the many accolades our team has received over the years. The awards represent the hard work and dedication of our team, our hospital, and our community commitment. Prior to the COVID pandemic we hosted an annual cancer survivor’s dinner for up to 500 patients and their guests. It’s a special event full of hope and a wonderful opportunity for past and present patients to come together. 

Pottstown Hospital Nurses Week 2022