Psychosocial Oncology

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We would like to welcome Shawna Markowitz, the Fellow in Psychosocial Oncology we, Carley’s Angels, have funded at SickKids.

Her work is split 60% clinical, 40% research. On the clinical side, she will meet with patients and families in the Garron Family Cancer Centre at the time of their diagnosis and will follow them throughout their cancer journey. The majority of the patients she will be seeing will have leukemia and lymphoma. She will be focused on providing holistic cancer care, addressing the social and psychological needs of patients and families, such as mental health assessments, coping mechanisms, and linking families with community resources where needed. She will also be creating a workshop series for caregivers of children in the chronic phase of their illness.

The first workshop series (4 sessions starting in early 2019) will target parents whose children are in the middle of treatment. It will focus on topics such as:

  • Supporting Families to Manage Uncertainty
  • Parenting in the Context of Chronic Illness
  • Maintaining Healthy Relationships
  • School in the Context of Chronic Illness

Shawna is also working with the Oncology Family Advisory, which is made up of current and past parents of the SickKids’ Haematology/Oncology Program. The feedback from the Advisory has been that while the upfront and end of life care is comprehensive at SickKids, there is a gap in the chronic phase of treatment. Thus, the piloting of this workshop series Shawna has created. The research portion of her position will be focused on evaluating these workshops (i.e. evaluating if parents felt supported, empowered, etc).  Following the launch of the parent workshops, Shawna will be looking at different workshops, possibly targeting patients and/or siblings as well as how to best support patients transitioning from SickKids to Princess Margaret when they turn 18.

We are extremely proud to be funding the first psychosocial oncology fellowship at SickKids. Thanks to your support, Shawna will have the unique opportunity to develop and implement this innovative program including therapies encompassing mental health, mindfulness, meditation etc. to best support cancer patients and their families.

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