Amy Colver, LCSW
Melody Griffith, MSW, LMSW, OSW-C
AOSW Communications Director
Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of AOSW Newsletter, contact Amy Colver or Melody Griffith on the list above.
Member Spotlight: Susan Glaser, LCSW
Susan Glaser, LCSW
Senior Clinical Social Worker and Supervisor
Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Where do you currently work?
I work in the Breast and Imaging Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). I work with people with breast cancer and their families, from diagnosis to end-of-life, providing individual, couples and group support as well as securing concrete assistance in an effort to reduce barriers to care. I supervise both social work staff and interns and co-facilitate the hospital’s bereavement program and Advanced Cancer Initiative.
Where did you earn your degree?
I received my Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and have advanced training in Health Systems Management, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Human Sexuality and Mindfulness Training. Recently, I participated in the Zelda Foster Leadership Fellowship in Palliative and End-of-Life Care through the New York University Silver School of Social Work.
How long have you been a member of AOSW?
Eight years. AOSW has been a valuable source of education and networking for me. I presented at six AOSW Annual Conferences (Minneapolis, Portland, Louisville, Savannah, Phoenix and San Diego), and appreciate the opportunities that these presentations gave me for meet colleagues from all over the world and exchanging professional experiences with people from major cancer centers and smaller rural hospitals. I’ve also enjoyed traveling to interesting cities.
In your role as an oncology social worker/clinician, what is one of your favorite resources to share with clients?
Several years ago, a social work intern that I supervised and I created a two-page list of national and local organizations that I now share with staff, people with cancer and their families. Each listing includes telephone and email contact information and a brief summary of the program’s focus. People always appreciate receiving the organized list of resources that provides them with hope while addressing their many concerns. There are three programs I recommend frequently to people who have concerns about mounting healthcare costs: The Healthwell Foundation (www.healthwellfoundation.org), the Patient Access Network Foundation (www.panfoundation.org) and the Patient Advocate Foundation (www.patientadvocate.org). These foundations address financial concerns, particularly with co-payments and deductibles for certain medications and therapies.
In your experience with survivors, would you share a memorable story with us?
I met Diana, a woman in her late forties, when she was first diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer. She was married and had a teenaged child. She sought social work support while she was deciding about breast cancer surgery and expressed a great deal of anxiety about the disease and the uncertainties of her future. She repeatedly said she wanted to do everything possible to ensure she would live a long, healthy life. As a result, she had extensive breast surgery and reconstruction and months of adjuvant chemotherapy.
Despite having repeated conversations with her healthcare team about her early stage breast cancer, Diana once asked her physician what her prognosis was. What she heard him answer was that her chances for survival were “50-50.” Diana often turned to her husband for reassurance and, over time, he learned to say things like, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. All of this will soon be behind you.”
As the months passed, Diana physically recovered and returned to work. She got back to a busy and active lifestyle. It took her five years after the completion of her treatment to feel secure enough to come to a support group as a survivor and help others through their illness. In an early stage breast cancer support group that I co-facilitate with a colleague, Diana provided the group members with a sense of hope that they, too, could move forward. Her healthy appearance reinforced what they were told about the possibilities of healing and recovery. They appreciated hearing her story and what coping strategies she found helpful. Her vitality and energy were contagious and her involvement in the support group as a survivor was invaluable. In turn, Diana was reminded of how far she had come in five years. She gained a great deal by sharing her own struggles with breast cancer while empowering so many others.
Diana was an important member of the support group for several years before she was diagnosed with a relatively rare and unrelated cancer. Unfortunately, she died after a short time despite aggressive treatment efforts. My colleague and I frequently remember Diana and her contributions to the support group years ago. Her courage and energy have been a model for many of us. Knowing her was an honor and a privilege.
What is one thing you might share with us about yourself personally, one that is outside of your work life?
Since childhood, I have always been a physically active person. When I was young, I took dance lessons and rode my bicycle everywhere. I was always outside playing with friends and in school I enjoyed team sports. Though the activities were mainly social, from an early age I learned how important they were to help me to clear my head and gain focus. In working with people with cancer, I have repeatedly been reminded of the importance of self-care, and I have held on to my love of physical activity. In recent years, achy knees from running on New York City streets have led me to swimming. While in the pool, I concentrate, reflect, plan and work things out. It is quiet, and I love to see the light, bubbles and waves reflected in the pool. The rhythmic stretching, floating, gliding and moving that I do are paired with my breathing. I am alone with myself while in the water. I find it empowering, sobering and centering.
About the Author
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT
ArticlesGather With AOSW in Atlanta, Georgia
Member Spotlight: Amanda Musser, MSW
Member Spotlight: Chesley Flotten, MA, LCSW
Member Spotlight: Christabel Cheung, PhD Candidate, MSW
Member Spotlight: Craig Pressley, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Crystal Fields-Burdick, LCSW, OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Dennis Heffern, MSW, LCSW
Member Spotlight: Erin Price, BS, MSW
Member Spotlight: Eucharia Borden, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Hilary Cohen, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, CTS, DVC(111)
Member Spotlight: Jamie Bussiere, MSW, MPH
Member Spotlight: Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Jennifer Carrera, MSW, LCSW
Member Spotlight: Katherine Walsh, PhD, MSW, LICSW
Member Spotlight Krista Nelson, LCSW, OSW-C, BCD, FAOSW
Member Spotlight: Lynn Waldman, LCSW
Member Spotlight: Marie Lavigne, LCSW, OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Patrice Al-Shatti, LMSW
Member Spotlight: Robert McMillan, MSW, LCSW, BCD,OSW-C
Member Spotlight: Summer Al-Majed, MSW
Member Spotlight: Susan Glaser, LCSW
Member Spotlight: Teri Freeman, LCSW
Virtual Meetings: From Best Practice to IMHO Suggestions