“Finding Your Cause”- BOYAA member, Geoff Gamble, published in the Daily Record

 

Geoffrey M. Gamble: Finding your cause

I was finishing my first year as an associate at Saul Ewing LLP when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. In an instant, the excitement and self-assurance I had been feeling after finishing law school and starting my career was replaced by a feeling of helplessness that I had never experienced before.

Thankfully, my mother made a full recovery and has been cancer-free for over seven years. But after being so close to her fight, I knew I could not return to my life and just forget about cancer. Her recovery marked the beginning of my own journey into volunteerism.

Over the next few years, I looked for opportunities to get involved in the fight against cancer. I did more than a few walks to raise money for cancer research, but it did not feel like I was doing enough.  Ultimately, it was a colleague and close friend who introduced me to the group that would transform my life in so many ways. For the last five years, I have been a member of the Board of Young Adult Advisors, or BOYAA, a volunteer philanthropy organization run by The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults I have participated in outreach and awareness efforts, as well as fundraising for scholarships to send cancer survivors and caregivers to college. Through my involvement with BOYAA, I have met the most incredible people from varied backgrounds – all drawn together by their shared motivation to support young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer, and fight for a cure.

The impact BOYAA has had on my life cannot be understated. It has educated me about the unique and significant struggles and issues that young adult cancer patients experience and provided what is often much needed perspective. It has given me the opportunity to work alongside talented and young professionals in Baltimore who regularly challenge me to be better and to give more. It has allowed me to witness – in my fellow BOYAA members and the UCF staff – the inspiring work of people who go the extra mile day to improve the community and the lives of the people in it.  Perhaps most importantly, however, the group enables me to make a tangible impact in the lives of people struggling through the same ordeal as my mother.

Why volunteer?

Many of us get so trapped in our own corporate bubble that we fail to see the many opportunities to enrich our lives and the lives of others outside of the nine-to-five. Volunteering lets you work toward a greater good, while gaining an invaluable perspective on the world beyond your comfort zone. It is also a way to branch out and extend your professional development in an engaging, and often inspiring, way. Volunteering benefits the community, but it also benefits you.

When you take up the mantle of a cause, you expand your personal narrative. Your work should not be your entire life and, with a volunteer position, you can extend your resume by leaps and bounds.  You are not just an architect; you are an architect with an interest in neighborhood revitalization.

Volunteering also extends your network to include a hugely diverse group of motivated individuals. Think about the people who volunteer – they have a strong work ethic, leadership skills and are well connected. These are the people you want to know, and a shared commitment to a common cause is a great way to meet them. Contacts made through volunteering might end up enriching your professional life as well as your personal life.

How to find your cause

Do a quick Google search of a cause you care about and add the word “Baltimore.” You will no doubt get hundreds of results. In fact, there may be so many that it could be hard to narrow them down. When you are browsing, try to limit yourself to those organizations you can see yourself devoting your valuable free time. When you truly click with an organization on a personal level, it becomes easy to follow through.

Once you have narrowed your prospects, take a deeper look at the organization’s leadership. Do you have other interests that align outside of the cause itself? If so, ask one of the organization’s leaders out for coffee – people love talking about what motivates them, and they will be glad you are excited about their cause. If a one-on-one is not for you, then just show up at an event. Bring a friend if it makes you more comfortable. The important thing is to get your foot in the door so that you can judge whether the organization is the right fit for you.

It is an old cliché that those who volunteer often get more out of the experience than those they are there to help. But volunteering is the quintessential win-win. Find your cause and you truly will be enriched by doing so.

Geoffrey M. Gamble is a partner at Saul Ewing LLP in Baltimore. He can be reached at ggamble@saul.com.

Professional Women Triathletes to Give back at Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon

COLUMBIA, MD – June 16, 2016 – The world’s first “female IRONMAN” won the title by default as she was the only woman in the race. That was 1979 and now there are more than 239,000 women participating in the sport of triathlon. The IRONMAN brand has been an inclusive ambassador of the sport since its beginning and has helped to propel the number of women participating in the sport through it’s Iron Girl brand. UCF Races, the organizer of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark, is making plans to celebrate women in the sport even more at the 2016 event on August 7th.

In its 11th annual year, the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark, one of the largest women’s sprint triathlon events in the country, is inviting professionals to be a part of the race, but not actually race. There are no prize purses or elite waves here, just four women with a strong desire to give back to their hometown and women in the sport.

“One goal of integrating professional and elite women triathletes into the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon weekend is to enhance the participant experience by adding events, training opportunities and advice from experts, “ said Erica Johnson, UCF Races Co-Race Director. “But our biggest goal is to further the prominence of women in the sport and all of these women are the type of women we want to expose our participants to, both on and off the course.”

The four women committed to participating in the weekend’s events include; 20-time Ironman Finisher, Alyssa Godesky; recent pro-card holder and medical student, Emily Sherrard; local elite triathlete, Howard County School Teacher and former Iron Girl Columbia Champion, Suzy Serpico and former USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year and Columbia Triathlon course record holder, Bec Wassner, who also has close ties with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, the beneficiary of this event.

“This initiative struck a chord with me immediately,” said professional triathlete, coach and 20-time Ironman Finisher, Alyssa Godesky. “I’m passionate about propelling women already in the sport and inspiring others to get involved. This hits close to home for me.”

Along with Alyssa, participants will have the chance to meet and interact with Emily Sherrard who is recent medical school graduate, deferring her residency to pursue her dream of professionally competing in triathlons, Bec Wassner who is recently a mother of two and is now balancing a family with training and Suzy Serpico who is a full-time teacher and running her own training business while not sacrificing her own training. These testimonials of passion, perseverance and balance are all stories that women need and want to hear, and now they’ll get to right here at a local event.

A highlight event of the weekend will be a shakeout run with Bec Wassner in Centennial Park on Saturday, August 6. Other events include a panel discussion and an opportunity for autographs and one-on-one tips. In addition, all four women will be present on race day, August 7, 2016, not racing, but cheering on the more than 1500 women participating in the day’s sprint triathlon.

To learn more about all of the weekend’s events or register, visit www.ulmanfund.org/irongirl. Registration for the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark will be open through July 22, 2016.

About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults & UCF Races

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (ulmanfund.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Founded in 1997, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults works at both the local and national level to ensure that all young adults impacted by cancer have a voice and the necessary resources to thrive.
UCF Races was established in 2010 to further the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. UCF Races produces first class endurance events that enrich the community, celebrate the achievements of every participant and ultimately spread awareness of the young adult cancer fight.

No One Fights Alone!

If you are a caregiver of a young adult with cancer, you are a critical part of a young adult’s cancer journey. Whether you are a parent, partner or friend of a loved one with cancer, your role in the life of a young adult with cancer cannot be overlooked. In many cases, it is your tireless support that makes it possible that a young adult with cancer receives treatment and is able to manage the emotional highs and lows that a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings with it. Remember that as a caregiver of a young adult with cancer, you are not alone. Be sure to take time to honor and embrace yourself as part of the celebration of Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week!

If you or a loved one impacted by cancer need support, we’re here to help. Please reach out to cmiller@ulmanfund.org.

Fight for Fertility Preservation, Family Building and the Future

When I first began my work serving young adults living with cancer over a decade ago, getting providers to talk to young people about their future fertility, or lack of it, really was a genuine fight! Oncologists focused on saving their patient’s life or preserving it with real quality for as long as possible, were hesitant to delay treatment. Nurses, social workers and case managers, didn’t always know who to contact to help navigate the complex world of fertility preservation.

Today many of the professional organizations that the medical team members belong to endorse a direct and systematic approach to oncofertility. See below:

http://www.cancer.net/research-and-advocacy/asco-care-and-treatment-recommendations-patients/fertility-preservation

https://cjon.ons.org/cjon/20/1/fertility-preservation-cancer-treatment-options-strategies-and-resources

There are wonderful organizations focused on fertility preservation and family building through education, advocacy and grant funding. See below:

http://www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/fertility-services/

http://oncofertility.northwestern.edu/

http://www.fertileaction.org/

https://oncofertility.northwestern.edu/files/documents/cancer-friendly-adoption-agencies

 

Family Building Support

 

Fertility preservation before cancer treatment is about something much greater than freezing sperm and harvesting eggs. What we are offering is hope for survival and for the future. For some patients this hope will not include carrying their own child or having a child that is completely genetically related to them and their partner. For some this hope will come through adoption. For others it will come from a traditional pregnancy. For others, a decision to not become a parent but to focus their energy on nieces and nephews, god children or the students on their classroom, will be the way they realize this hope.

At the Ulman Cancer Fund all of our Patient Navigators are trained to assist young adults through the fertility preservation and family building process. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions, cmiller@ulmanfund.org or 410-964-0202 ext. 106

By Elizabeth Saylor, Young Adult Patient Navigator, University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center

Fight to Understand Post-Traumatic Growth

Post-traumatic growth experienced by young adult cancer patients is a topic worth talking about.

The literature in the link below reveals there are some aspects of a cancer patient’s life that may be enhanced by their cancer experience. Young adult cancer survivors often report stronger interpersonal relationships with family and friends with whom they closely shared their cancer experience. Additionally, the young adult cancer survivors report feeling more compassion for others who have suffered similar or other types of physical or emotional pain.

Read more here- http://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/index.php/resources/articles-from-the-director/finding-benefit-post-traumatic-growth-and-cancer/

By Sharon Curran, Young Adult Patient Navigator, GBMC

 

Knockout the Feeling of Social Isolation

When adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are admitted to the hospital for extended periods of time, they often feel isolated and disconnected from their peers. While inpatient for treatment, AYAs can miss out on events like prom, graduation, weddings, and other group gatherings that are considered major life milestones. Social media has made it possible to see, and even participate in, what friends and family are doing outside of the hospital. Occasionally, that can make the feeling of isolation greater. Social isolation includes more than missing out on activities. Teens and young adults can also feel socially isolated by the lack of independence that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis. While their peers are leaving the nest and starting careers, AYAs may need to move back home for more support and care. In addition, teens and young adults don’t always know what to say to their friends battling an illness. Sometimes, they say nothing and friendships can suffer. Body image challenges, such as ports or bald heads, can make people anxious about going out in public and attending social events.

The important thing to remember during the whirlwind of cancer treatment is that no two stories are exactly the same, and your cancer experience is just another piece of the puzzle that makes you unique. Adolescents and young adults, with a cancer diagnosis or without, are in a phase of transition and are usually unsure about the next steps in life. Unquestionably, a cancer diagnosis makes this phase of life more difficult. BUT REMEMBER: in the end, everyone this age is faking it and no one knows what they are doing.

Cards for when you don’t know what to say to your friend with cancer:
http://www.boredpanda.com/empathy-cards-cancer-postcards-serious-illness-emily-

Where to purchase trendy beanies: http://www.loveyourmelon.com/

“Psychosocial Aspects of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK179872/

Life With Cancer Young Adult Support: https://www.lifewithcancer.org/young_adults.php

Stupid Cancer (online community of support): http://stupidcancer.org/

By Allie Isaacson, Young Adult Patient Navigator, Children’s National Medical Center

Fight to Become Your Own Champion- Self Advocate!

No matter where you might be in your cancer experience, newly diagnosed or 10-year survivor, self-advocacy is important!  When you are a proactive and educated patient, you can influence the quality of your life and the care you receive.  In a situation where you often feel a loss of control, advocacy can give you stability and a feeling of regaining some of that control.

Some of the things you might do include:

-Researching your disease and the treatments available

-Using reputable and reliable sources for the information you seek

-Ensuring that you understand the stage and/or grade of your cancer, as well as the impacts of treatment

-Writing out questions in advance of medical appointments (and having a family member or friend take notes, while you listen)

-Understanding your insurance coverage and how premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurances work

-Deciding if you’d like to seek a second opinion and if so, pursuing that option

-Connecting with other patients and survivors – online, at conferences, in support groups, etc.

-Creating or updating your advanced directives, power of attorney, and/or wills

Self-advocacy requires that you participate in the decision-making processes related to your care.  However, if you’re not able to fully participate or you prefer it, self-advocacy can also mean selecting a ‘team captain’ from your support network.  Advocating for yourself can often transform feelings of hopelessness and helplessness into those of hope and control.

For more information, check out:

http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/managing-your-care/taking-charge-your-care

http://www.canceradvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Self_Advocacy.pdf

By: Meghan Fitzgibbons, Young Adult Patient Navigator at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

National Social Workers Month! An Interview with: Elizabeth Saylor, MSW & Majbritt Jensen, LCSW-C

An Interview with:

 

Elizabeth Saylor, MSW

Elizabeth Saylor, MSW, is the Ulman Fund Young Adult Patient Navigator at University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC).

 

Majbritt Jensen, LCSW-C

Majbritt Jensen LCSW-C is the Clinical Social Worker for the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC).
social work

Elizabeth (Class of 2002) and Majbritt (Class of 2000) are pictured here in front of their alma mater, the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

 

Why did you want to become a social worker (and work with young adults impacted by cancer)?

 

Majbritt: I love to be of service and to help. Hearing the story of a person’s life and witnessing the love shared between patients and their families enriches me daily. Oncology social work is a privilege. Oncology social workers are with people when their entire world changes the second the doctor says, “You have cancer.” Being part of that journey is an honor. To help ease the burden of having a diagnosis in any small way is a blessing and as a social worker I can help do that. I love connecting patients to resources like the Ulman Fund, or LLS, having  food sent to a patient’s home to help ease the stress on the caregiver, providing support groups and my favorite part is just being present and being a source of support during such a difficult time.

 

Elizabeth: Prior to social work I studied psychology.  These academic disciplines are closely related but social work puts a real emphasis on working from people’s strengths, thinking about how an individual’s environment shapes their behavior, and that ultimately, human beings know what is best for their own growth and healing.  At the time I was applying to graduate school I was a special educator in the Baltimore City Public School System.  I saw how simply diagnosing and labeling kids didn’t achieve much change and really cheated children out of a chance to thrive.  I also witnessed the potential for success in helping communities act on the school, neighborhood and municipal systems in which they lived.  The social justice aspect of social work really appeals to me. The social workers who served on  the Special Education team encouraged me to apply to UMB, and I am so glad I did!

Growing up I knew  two social workers because I was their patient during my own cancer experience.  The first was marginal in her efforts to establish rapport with me and my parents, and offered few helpful resources or suggestions.  This was unfortunate given the fact that she was stationed at a children’s hospital and could have made a huge difference in the lives of sick children, and one terrified and stressed-out 3rd grader.  The second was fantastic.  She was stationed at a large academic medical center where I received radiation. Working in an institution that was not at all geared towards children she sought creative and unique ways to make my experience easier.  She would play card and board games with me during the long wait times (imagine a waiting area filled with elderly, very ill cancer patients in wheel chairs and on stretchers) and strategized ways to ease my anxiety about being alone in the treatment room.  I am dating myself a bit here but she knew I loved Michael Jackson and so she secured a Walkman and a Thriller cassette tape that I could listen to.

 

What is the best part of your job as a social worker in the young adult oncology space?

 

Majbritt: The best part of my job as an oncology social worker is that I am reminded every day that things don’t matter, status doesn’t matter, all that matters is relationships and how much you have loved. Last year Elizabeth and I worked with a young man who passed away at age 24. He had a toddler, beautiful wife and devoted parents that stood by him through his long battle. Elizabeth and I went to his funeral service. Hundreds of people were there. In his short life that young man touched every person he met. When people stood up to talk about him, they talked about his kindness, and how much he loved his wife and son. At such a young age that young man left a mark on this world.

 

Elizabeth: Working with young adults who are living with cancer I witness daily the strength of the human spirit.  I mean this in the most genuine way.  I had cancer as a child.  It was not fun and I am sure dreadful for my parents.  But I didn’t have the responsibility the patients I work with have.  I had no choice – someone always made sure I got to the hospital.

People are remarkable and young adults especially.  Dealing with cancer at any age is challenging but managing to get out of bed and show up for chemotherapy when you are trying to finish school, or start a new job, or get used to living with your parents again because you are too sick to live alone, or figure out how to comfort your young children who are scared you are going to die, or explain to a new partner why you need to cancel a date, or figure out how to pay your car bill with your limited disability check, now that takes real guts. Doing all of this while your friends are moving forward with the “normal” young adults stuff is just plain courageous.

 

What piece of advice would you give anyone interested in become a social worker?

 

Majbritt: Always be present. You will have 100 things you will need to be doing but when you are with a patient or their loved one, be present. Listen. Be with them in that moment.

 

Elizabeth: Social work is a wonderful profession and the MSW is a versatile, practical advanced degree.  If you enjoy interacting with and learning from other human beings this could be the right career path for you.  And I don’t just mean learning from the patients.  I learn from colleagues like Majbritt every day. Her training is much more clinically focused while I am more of a macro practitioner. Majbritt knows how to rapidly but sincerely build trust with families that are about to go through transplant and this is a real skill.  

 

If you believe that the world- your country, city, neighborhood, block, or HOSPITAL! -can be a much better place, especially for those of us with the least resources, then I encourage you to pursue a career in social work.

National Social Workers Month! An Interview with: Alexandra Gubin, LCSW

An Interview with:

Alexandra Gubin, LCSW

Alexandra Gubin, LCSW, is the Ulman Fund Young Adult Patient Navigator at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

photo_allie

Why did you want to become a social worker (and work with young adults impacted by cancer)?

I’ve always been interested in human behavior as well as concerned with the greater social good. When considering a career in Social Work, the range of professional pursuits provided by a Social Work degree, from direct practice to policy level work intrigued me very much.

 

What is the best part of your job as a social worker in the young adult oncology space?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is having the opportunity to interact and support patients and families navigating cancer treatment. The strength and resilience exuded by patients/families during critical and often traumatic points in their lives is life-affirming to me.

 

What piece of advice would you give anyone interested in become a social worker?

For those contemplating becoming a social worker, it is important to consider an openness to change and to the possibility of new experiences. A Social Work degree can take you many places!

 

ClearShark Named Presenting Sponsor of 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon

ClearShark Named Presenting Sponsor of 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon in Partnership with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

COLUMBIA, MD – March 16, 2016 – The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is proud to announce an official partnership with IT Solutions Provider, ClearShark, which includes the presenting sponsorship of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon to take place on August 7, 2016. In addition to presenting sponsor of the August event, ClearShark will also be a featured sponsor of the Columbia Triathlon on May 15, 2016; both triathlons are organized by and benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Committed to supporting the local community and particularly organizations in the cancer space, ClearShark first reached out to the Ulman Cancer Fund in the fall of 2015 and the relationship has since developed into a formal partnership.

Named the best women’s event in the Mid-Atlantic, 2016 marks the 11th year of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon, a widely popular, sprint distance race, held in Centennial Park. This inspirational event is about empowering women toward a healthy lifestyle, and celebrating each woman’s unique journey toward the finish line. The addition of ClearShark as the presenting sponsor will increase on-course support and enhance the overall race day experience for participants.

ClearShark avidly supports local community events and activities, and it is an organizational priority to donate to local charities such as the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Becoming the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon official presenting sponsor is the most recent activity in a series of engagements in which the two organizations have joined together. In November of 2015, ClearShark participated in the Across the Bay 10K, the company’s mascot ran to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund, donating $2 for every runner the mascot passed. ClearShark donated $5,000 as a result of this effort. Since then, staff members of the Ulman Cancer Fund have shared ways the organization changes the lives of young adults impacted by cancer with ClearShark employees and provided them the opportunity to put together chemo care bags for patients currently in treatment.

“The Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon is an inspiring event that empowers women athletes and promotes a healthy lifestyle, something we’re thrilled to be a part of,” said Brittany Wilson, Marketing Manager for ClearShark. “We’re looking forward to having employees participate in the race in addition to motivating athletes throughout the day.”

“Receiving support from ClearShark at this level is exciting for our entire organization and will directly benefit not only the athletes participating in our two triathlon events this year, but on a greater scale, will benefit the young adults and families we work with,” said Brian Satola, Chief Operating Officer of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Registration for the 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark is open online at www.ulmanfund.org/ucfraces through July 22, 2016. All proceeds from the race benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults & UCF Races
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (ulmanfund.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Founded in 1997, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults works at both the local and national level to ensure that all young adults impacted by cancer have a voice and the necessary resources to thrive.

UCF Races was established in 2010 to further the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. UCF Races organizes the Columbia Triathlon and Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon, first class endurance events that enrich the community, celebrate the achievements of every participant and ultimately spread awareness of the young adult cancer fight.

About ClearShark
ClearShark (clearshark.com) is an IT Solutions Provider and a 2014 and 2015 Inc. 5000 company based in Hanover, Maryland. ClearShark is a team of highly experienced sales professionals who provide their expertise to deliver the best overall enterprise storage, cyber security, virtualization, high performance computing, datacenter and cloud infrastructure solutions to the federal government. ClearShark’s award-winning partnerships with industry-leading innovators ensure that their customers receive the ideal combination of products and services to exceed their mission and goals.