CancerCare’s Year in Review
As we look back upon this past year at CancerCare, we are heartened to acknowledge the ways in which we were able to provide help and hope to anyone affected by cancer. Each year, 180,000 people reach out to CancerCare for emotional support, financial assistance and trusted educational resources. In 2016, we launched a searchable, online database of cancer resources, partnered with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) to offer weekly onsite legal clinics for people with cancer, and published our landmark Patient Access and Engagement Report.
Of course, much of what makes us proud of our organization lies within the exchanges between social workers and clients, the bonds formed between members of our support groups and the words of thanks we receive from those who feel they have been helped. Below, seven CancerCare social workers reflect on their 2016 highlights:
"On December 15, CancerCare clients gathered at our national headquarters in New York City for a fun, interactive improv workshop. Improv is a comedic art form and empowering exercise that helps people develop the ability to stay in the moment and focus on the positive. Our improv workshop was led by a veteran improviser and cancer survivor, and featured improv games and exercises that brought people with cancer and caregivers together to laugh, bond, and find commonality."
--Andrew Chesler, LMSW, Oncology Social Worker
"In 2016, I was asked to become the Director of Client Advocacy, a new role created to bring the patient/caregiver voice to the growing discussion on patient access and engagement in helping to establish best practices in cancer care. As a two-time cancer survivor I am honored and excited to bring our clients’ voices to the national discussion on how to address the needs of people whose lives have been forever altered by cancer. In that process I also have the opportunity to share the illustrious 72 year history of CancerCare and our mission which has never wavered: to provide help and hope to anyone affected by cancer."
--Richard Dickens, LCSW-R, Director of Client Advocacy
"One very special highlight of 2016: CancerCare was recognized by the International Association for Social Work with Groups for our support group programs. The IASWG presented CancerCare with an award at their annual symposium in June, such a wonderful acknowledgment of our mission and the meaningful ways we connect patients and their loved ones with community and support."
--Caroline Edlund, LCSW-R, Online Support Group Program Director
"For many years, CancerCare staff has held a special Remembrance meeting at our New York office . This year, we were pleased to open the event to clients coping with the loss of a loved one. We called this event ‘Remember and Renew.” Guests came from across the New York City tri-state area to connect with others,share their stories and provide words of encouragement and support. The most powerful moments of the evening came when guests were invited to say a few words about their loved one, each placing a single rose into a vase upon conclusion of their remarks. By the close of the evening, the empty vase had been transformed into a beautiful bouquet of roses, symbolizing how our guests came together to form a community of hope and healing."
--Liz Ezra, LCSW, OSW-C, Pancreatic Cancer Program Coordinator
"An exciting highlight in the children’s program this year was the launching of a new back to school program. Through this program, 70 children and teens affected by cancer received a new backpack filled with school supplies. A most meaningful moment during the launch of this program was hearing from a young mother about how excited her son, who has been diagnosed with cancer, was to have received his school supply package. In her words, 'he was so happy to show his new bag that he added his gold ribbon to the CancerCare pin and said he will keep it on his bag forever. You have taken a big burden off my shoulders.'”
--Ahuva Morris, LMSW, Children’s Program Coordinator
"The highlight of my year, as it is has been for the past eight years, is my involvement with the Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp. Having the opportunity to spend a healing weekend with such wonderful families who have experienced a death to cancer is very special for me. It is heartwarming to see the faces of the children bonding and making friends with other young children who truly understand what each is going through. The camp helps to reinforce my love of working with our families to provide help and hope, and energizes me to continue my work throughout the year."
--Kathy Nugent, LCSW, Director of Regional Programs
"I’m proud that my program was able to service 250 women for wigs and prosthesis. 150 wigs and 100 prostheses. Seeing their smiles when they leave makes my day!"
--Essie Roman, LMSW, Women’s Clinic Program Coordinator