Navigating the Uncertain:

Oncology Nurse Navigators

A Powerful Gift from the Newell-Tiburzi Family Helps Others Facing Cancer

Ten years ago, Russell Newell passed away just four weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. His wife, Carol Byrnes Newell passed away within eight days of her cancer diagnosis in 2010.

“Cancer has really had an impact on our family and our friends,” said the Newells’ daughter, Karen Tiburzi. “We’ve found that the hardest thing to face is not knowing what to do.”

Thanks to a generous planned gift from the Newells, Karen hopes other families facing cancer have someone special by their side to guide them through the daunting journey – a nurse navigator. Russell was a leader on the West Jersey Health Foundation Board, the predecessor of the Virtua Foundation Board of Trustees, and planned a legacy gift to Virtua in memory of his grandson, Michael Allan Tiburzi.

Because of their very personal experience with cancer, Karen, her husband Allan and their daughter, Wendy Tiburzi Yancey, decided to direct their family’s meaningful support to the Oncology Nurse Navigation program at Virtua, in memory of Michael. The Oncology Nurse Navigators often serve as a partner and friend, helping patients better understand their diagnoses and care plans. They seek to alleviate some of the stress and confusion that patients may experience in the days following a diagnosis by streamlining communication between patients and doctors, coordinating appointments and just answering questions.

“We are incredibly grateful for the impact this gift will have on the patients we serve every day,” said Virtua Director of Oncology Services, Lisa Shalkowski. “The Tiburzi and Newell families have established a lasting legacy here in this community and their generosity will change lives.”

Remembering Michael Allan Tiburzi

Michael was a 1986 Shawnee High School graduate who was involved in everything from the Knowledge Bowl to the National Latin team, where he was captain. He was a member of the Knowledge Bowl team that won the New Jersey Knowledge Bowl championship in June, 1986.

As a college student at the University of Miami, he majored in business and finance and had taken the test to become a stock broker, just like his grandfather, Russell Newell. Sadly, Michael died in a car accident before receiving the favorable results of his exam. The Tiburzi and Newell families have established meaningful support of the Virtua Oncology Nurse Navigation Program in his loving memory.

Nurse Navigators

To help ease your anxiety about your cancer diagnosis, Virtua can connect you with a nurse navigator through Virtua’s Nurse Navigation Program for breast, colorectal, gastrointestinal, gynecologic and prostate cancer patients. All services are free to Virtua patients.

For more information, visit



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Virtua Health Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization committed to enhancing Virtua's mission through philanthropy.


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