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CancerCare Social Workers Present at the AOSW Annual Conference

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A dynamic team of CancerCare’s oncology social workers presented at this year’s Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) Annual Conference. AOSW is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to the enhancement of psychosocial services to people with cancer and their families.

Oncology social work professionals from across the country gathered in Seattle, Washington for the organization’s 31st annual conference on May 20-22, 2015. CancerCare presenters included Richard Dickens, LCSW-R, Elizabeth Ezra, LCSW, OSW-C, Claire Grainger, LCSW, Sarah Kelly, LCSW, Carolyn Messner, DSW, LCSW-R, Kathy Nugent, LCSW and Essie Roman, LMSW.

Created in 1984 by social workers interested in oncology and by existing national cancer organizations, AOSW is an expanding force of psychosocial oncology professionals. The annual meeting serves as a wonderful opportunity to advance the field of oncology social work, as well as to highlight the important work conducted by CancerCare’s social workers. CancerCare presentations and posters were given on a variety of topics, including:

  • Ayuda y Esperanza Para Mujeres Que Hablan Español Diagnosticadas con Cancer (Help and Hope for Spanish-Speaking Women Diagnosed with Cancer)

Hispanic women living in the United States face significant healthcare disparities. Spanish-speaking oncology social workers are key points of contact for Spanish-speaking women diagnosed with cancer, serving to facilitate discussions about communicating with doctors, navigating the healthcare system, health literacy, practical help, and creating a support network.

  • Creating a Lasting Legacy

Many caregivers experience anticipatory grief. Sometimes connecting these intense feelings with an act or undertaking can bring much-needed comfort and relief. Asking questions such as, “What can you do to honor your feelings and honor your loved one?” can open a longer and more telling conversation about legacy, values and worth.

  • The Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp: An Innovative Approach to Healing

The experience of a death in the family can be devastating and life-changing for both children and adults. The Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp affords children, teens and adults the opportunity to connect with others who share the pain and suffering of a loss. Age-appropriate therapeutic interventions and traditional camp activities help families celebrate the memories of their loved ones, develop friendships and reclaim hope for the future.

  • A Place to Grieve: Creating a Space to Reflect after a Client’s Death

As professionals, we cannot help but be affected by the depth, complexity and sometimes, the finality of our work with people with cancer and their families. Just as we applaud our clients for reaching out for help, we should also recognize that we can lessen our own burdens by small acts of healing and community-building.

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