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Celebrating 80 Years of CancerCare: Q&A with Janet Rodriguez

As part of our 80th-anniversary celebration this year, we’re speaking with CancerCare staff to discuss their history with the organization, how it’s changed and how working here has impacted them.

Below is a conversation with Janet Rodriguez, SHRM-CP, CancerCare's Associate Vice President of Human Resources, Privacy Officer.

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When did you first join CancerCare?
I first joined CancerCare in 1988.

What roles have you had at CancerCare?
Before I transitioned to Human Resources over 15 years ago, I worked in the social service department. I was also the receptionist. I ran the disbursement checks for clients and I took intake. Then I was the executive assistant to the executive director of CancerCare at the time and from there, I went to school and started taking Human Resources management classes.

How has CancerCare evolved since you joined?
- Expanded Services: CancerCare has expanded its services to include a wide range of programs and resources.
- Digital Presence: When I first started, we did not have computers. We had IBM typewriters and a fax machine. In the Internet age, CancerCare developed a digital presence, offering online resources and support groups to reach individuals.
- Advocacy and Awareness: CancerCare has become increasingly involved in advocacy efforts to raise awareness about cancer-related issues and improve access to care.
- Partnerships and Collaborations: CancerCare has forged partnerships and collaborations to enhance its reach and impact.

In light of CancerCare turning 80 this year, are there any other big milestones that you remember?
1990 – When the first educational workshop was offered
1994 – Our toll-free Hopeline is established
1995 – CancerCare gets its first computer
1996 – When the website, was launched
1999 – Moved from 1180 6th Avenue to 275 Seventh Avenue
2008 – Co-Payment Assistance Foundation launched
2009 – 65th Year Anniversary

How has working at CancerCare affected you?
I have had the privilege of dedicating nearly 36 years of my career to CancerCare and it has been a rewarding journey. From the beginning, CancerCare has proven to be an organization that consistently fosters professional growth and development. At every turn, I've been encouraged to pursue my passions and channel my dedication into meaningful work.

Throughout my tenure, CancerCare offered me a wealth of opportunities to expand my skills and expertise. Whether through specialized training programs, mentorship initiatives, or challenging projects, I've continuously evolved and honed my abilities. I've always felt valued and respected, knowing that my efforts are making a difference, albeit indirectly, in the lives of those affected by cancer. CancerCare has been more than just a workplace to me; it is a community of my peers dedicated to a common cause. CancerCare provided me with the platform and resources to pursue my passions wholeheartedly and I am genuinely grateful for that.

Are there any additional memories you might like to share?
One of my more impactful memories happened early in my tenure and it has always stayed with me. I was assisting a social worker with translating for a Spanish speaking mother and child. The child had cancer and they were away from their family with no family in New York City while staying at Ronald McDonald House. Working with them was and has been one of my most gratifying experiences at CancerCare.

A fun fact: My father was a carpenter. When I told him way back in 1988 where I would be working, he recognized the name of the company. It took him a day or two to remember why he recognized the name. It turns out that my father worked on the construction crew for the building of our former 1 Park Avenue location.

To learn more about the history of CancerCare and to see how we’re celebrating 80 years of providing help and hope, visit or follow our 80th anniversary social posts with the hashtag #CancerCare80.

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 14, 2024 in CancerCare News, Guest Bloggers
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