With Social Work Month coming to an end we decided to sit down with our very own resident social worker. Maureen, Lung Cancer Alliance’s Director of Community & Support Services, discusses what it is like working with lung cancer patients, how she ended up at LCA and some of her favorite memories on the job.
1. How long have you been a social worker?
I got my Master of Social Work degree in 1994. Before working at Lung Cancer Alliance, I supervised intensive case management teams at community mental health centers in DC and Chicago. I also have crisis line experience.
2. What is your favorite color?
It’s probably boring but it’s grey! I don’t know what that says about me…
3. When did you come to LCA?
In October 2005. It’s been wonderful to have contributed to the growth of the organization–we’ve more than tripled in staff since, have expanded the services we’ve offered and seen tremendous success in areas of public health advocacy and awareness raising.
4. Why did you come to LCA/What brought you to LCA?
My father died from lung cancer and like many people, I was surprised at the disparities in lung cancer research funding and disturbed by the stigma associated with the disease. I got my social work degree at Jane Addams College of Social Work, where the focus is on social, racial, and economic justice. What better cause could I find to put my skills and experiences to good use?
5. Where is your favorite place you have traveled?
That is a tough question to answer! I am currently planning a third trip to Spain so right now, that’s my favorite.
6. Favorite part of your job?
It is an honor to help people from all over the country understand lung cancer and find the resources they need. I also have great co-workers…and it’s really fun to work just a block from the White House!
7. Least favorite part of your job?
We lose many wonderful people to this disease and that’s very hard.
8. Most memorable story/experience at LCA?
There are so many! A very special experience was finally meeting John, one of our Phone Buddy volunteers. We’d really clicked in our phone and email exchanges and one year he and his wife came to our advocacy conference. He was a great volunteer and a wonderful man and I am so glad we got to meet in person (see below picture).
9. How do you feel you are making a difference?
Besides being part of an organization that really is changing this disease and how it is managed, we can make a difference with just a single telephone conversation. People who are diagnosed with lung cancer and their loved ones often feel confused and scared. When they call our HelpLine, we listen, provide support, information and direct them to available resources. People often tell us how much better they feel after we talked. LCA, the work we do and all our great volunteers remind me of the quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
10. What would you tell someone who is interested in starting a career in social work?
A social work degree can lead you in a lot of different directions and that’s exciting. I love that LCA was looking for a social worker for my position. I feel really fortunate as mine is a unique situation as few cancer advocacy organizations have social workers on staff. I wish more would!
We remind you that we are here to help. For answers to your questions, for free support services or to get involved and make a difference call our toll free HelpLine: 1-800-298-2436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.