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CancerCare Social Workers Present at the 2016 AOSW Annual Conference

alt textBill Goeren, director of clinical programs at CancerCare
A dynamic team of CancerCare’s oncology social workers are presenting this year at the 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.

The organization’s 32nd annual conference kicked off yesterday in Tampa, Florida. CancerCare presenters include William Goeren, OSW-C, LCSW-R, Ahuva Morris, LMSW, Sarah Paul, LMSW and Victoria Puzo, 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 will be given on a variety of topics, including:

alt textAhuva Morris, children's program coordinator at CancerCare

  • Waiting is the Worst Part of Cancer

There is and continues to be much research and clinical interventions focused on clients’ emotional and psychological reactions when coping with a cancer diagnosis, recurrence and survivorship. One arena that has not received as much attention are those periods when a client is waiting for the next oncology appointment, waiting for scans, waiting for a diagnosis or waiting for test results. These “Wait Times” are significant for the person affected by cancer and there are interventions that oncology social workers can use to support clients in learning to cope.

  • Discovering Strength Through Connection: A Novel In-Person Support Group for Teens Affected By A Parent’s Cancer Diagnosis

An estimated 2.85 million children under the age of 18 are living with a parent who has cancer. Support groups, often accessible for adult patients, are limited for this population. An innovative support group model, designed to address the psychosocial needs of teens coping with a parent’s cancer, incorporates talk therapy and creative expression through art and writing and can be implemented across medical and non-medical settings. Discussing the impact of cancer on identity, autonomy, emotional wellbeing, family dynamics and other relationships with peers who “get it” decreases feelings of isolation and provides a renewed sense of hope and ability to cope.

alt textSarah Paul, oncology social worker at CancerCare

  • A Lost Population: How to Create a Safe Harbor in the Online Community for Teens Coping with Parental Cancer

Oncology Social Worker Sarah Paul, LMSW, was awarded Third Place for the AOSW Poster Session for this poster presentation!

Research shows that on a national level, there is a gap in clinical services for adolescents coping with parental cancer. There are many challenges in providing in-person group services for this age population; they may be limited by geographic location or the services may not exist. Though many online teen communities exist but lack the structure and safety procedures that parents seek. Facilitated online support groups can offer a rare means of support to teens coping with parental cancer by create a safe environment for teenagers struggling to connect.

alt textVictoria Puzo, online support group program coordinator at CancerCare

  • Providing a Safe Harbor When Treatment is Complete: Implications for Long-Term Care in the Adolescent and Young Adult Post-Treatment Population

With 70,000 adolescents and young adults (AYA) diagnosed with cancer every year, it is important to take into account this population’s unique needs according to their developmental level, significant life trajectories and available support networks after treatment is complete. Clinical interventions such as online support groups, peer networking, implementation of long-term care plans, utilization of multi-disciplinary teams and communication can be used to support the AYA post-treatment population.

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