Friend, colleague, leader, educator, mentor, visionary and a voice for quality patient care.
Those words don’t begin to describe the full extent of ASCP Board Member Cindy Johns’ legacy to the medical laboratory profession, ASCP, and quality patient care. Ms. Johns, MSA, MASCP, MLS(ASCP)CMSHCM, who passed away in late December of metastatic breast cancer, has left an indelible imprint on all who knew her.
“Cindy Johns was a champion for the laboratory medicine profession, a consummate professional, and a good friend to her family at ASCP,” said ASCP President James L. Wisecarver, MD, PhD, FASCP. “I am very appreciative of the time and energy she devoted to our Society. We will all miss her smile and laugh at our gatherings.”
“She was 100 percent committed to her core values. All of us are staggeringly inspired by her,” said Melissa Upton, MD, FASCP, ASCP President-Elect.
First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 at the age of 45, Cindy ultimately battled cancer six more times. As a certified laboratory professional by education and training, she understood the intricacies of the laboratory and knew what questions to ask her oncologist and physicians.
Cindy was an inaugural member of the ASCP Patient Champions’ Advisory Board and served on that Board until her passing. She received the first ASCP Patient Champions Award in September 2017, presented by ASCP CEO Blair Holladay, PhD, MASCP, SCT(ASCP)CM. This award recognizes a Patient Champion who has gone above and beyond in his/her activities to empower and educate patients and increase awareness of the crucial role the laboratory plays in patient care through real-life stories.
“Cindy never passed up an opportunity to teach us and create new pathways and opportunities to advance our profession,” Dr. Holladay said. “She inspired so many of us to be brave, to make no small dreams and to always remember to put the patient first.”
Starting her career as a bench tech, she worked in blood banking and then specialized in laboratory information systems. Throughout her career, Cindy had been an active volunteer for ASCP and the laboratory profession, providing numerous continuing education programs on such topics as hematology, hemostasis, and patient-focused laboratory services. Battling advanced cancer during the 2017 Annual Meeting, she summoned her personal courage and professionalism to help teach a course on LOINC coding and to speak about the value of the Patient Champions program.
A woman of boundless energy, she played an instrumental role in the ASCP Board of Registry negotiations to merge with the National Credentialing Association. She served on the ASCP Board of Registry (BOR) Board of Governors (BOG), from 1999 to 2008, and as its chair from 2006-2007.
“When Cindy was involved in those discussions, her genuine sincerity was evident. She knew it all came back to what was best for the patients and the laboratory team,” said Walter Oliveira, MASCP, MLS(ASCP)CMSI, a member of the ASCP BOC Board of Governors.
Advancing the Profession
She also served as the chief liaison to the BOR’s globalization committee, as the BOR was focusing on expanding its reach around the world. The BOR launched its international certification credential in December 2005.
“Cindy was dedicated to advancement of the profession. She believed in certification,” said Pat Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM, Executive Director of the ASCP BOC.
For her service and leadership, she received the ASCP Distinguished Service Award in 2002, the ASCP Mastership Award in 2010, and the ASCP Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Dr. Upton was chair of the Commission on Continuing and Professional Development in 2008 when Cindy joined the Commission. “One of the skills she brought was not just a broad knowledge of what it takes to give great patient care in the lab, but she also taught pathology residents,” she said. “She knew what was necessary to be a good laboratory professional and brought that really deep and broad understanding of education to the Commission.”
Concern for Others
A woman of deep faith, even as she was fighting for her life, she would consistently express concern for others. “She brought to the Board of Directors all of these beautiful shells that she collected in Florida, and let you pick the ones that were your favorite. I will always treasure that,” said Lynnette Chakkaphak, MS, MT(ASCP), a member of the ASCP Board of Directors.
In Cindy’s legacy, ASCP has created a memorial fund in her name, the Cindy Johns Patient Champions Memorial Fund, dedicated to promoting awareness and understanding of the laboratory to educate and empower patients and their caregivers. The Cindy Johns Patient Champions Memorial Fund will support Patient Champions through scholarships, advocacy, education and materials that showcase the vital connection between patients and the medical laboratory. To watch a video about Cindy’s legacy and to give to the Cindy Johns Patient Champions Memorial Fund, visit www.ascp.org/patients.