As a clinical psychologist in the Division of Oncology, I provide psychosocial care for patients and their families. A diagnosis of childhood cancer often requires the child and family to put “normal life” on hold. The patient often needs to miss school, at least one parent may need to take time off from work and healthy siblings within the family may suddenly be under the care of extended relatives or family friends. All of this occurs while emotions are running high. I see my job as one of helping cancer patients and their families regain some sense of stability and order in their lives.
My clinical and research interests focus on understanding and improving the adjustment of families when a child is diagnosed with cancer. To do this, I consider both children and parents in the context of the family -- and the family in the context of their larger community (school, work settings, neighborhoods.) For example, some of my research aims to help adolescents with cancer and their parents work together more effectively to achieve better adherence to cancer treatment.
A current emphasis in my research is to understand how siblings of children with cancer adjust to the experience, and how family members, friends, teachers and classmates may help in that process. As we gather more information about siblings of children with cancer, we hope to develop more programs at Children's Hospital specifically aimed at ensuring that these siblings are provided with the support they need.
Building on my interest in bridging the hospital and the community, I am very interested in how children with cancer function in the schools. My clinical work focuses upon providing neurocognitive assessments to children who have survived cancer, and identifying ways to foster their learning and academic achievement. These evaluations also involve helping parents negotiate the school system to best advocate for their children.
Working in a high caliber academic and clinical environment like The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has given me the opportunity to engage in cutting edge clinical research while providing patients and families with the psychosocial interventions we know to be effective and useful.