Patients with cancer rely so heavily on their multidisciplinary care team to help them navigate through their cancer journey that they often are perceived as family. Social workers support their patients, caregivers, and loved ones by serving as “dot connectors” to help overcome barriers. March 16 is World Social Work Day, a day when social workers worldwide stand together to highlight the importance of their work globally. This year, World Social Work Day focuses on the concept of “Ubuntu: I Am Because We Are.”
Katie Ozuna, LMSW, OSW-C, OPN-CG, Survivorship Navigator, shares her perspective on Ubuntu:
“The concept of Ubuntu resonates so deeply in my work with cancer patients and caregivers, and in the cancer community as a whole. I knew nothing about cancer before my boyfriend, now husband, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 24. Being his caregiver, and navigating all the challenges and clinging to the moments of joy, inspired me to move into oncology professionally. I didn’t want that experience to live with just us. I wanted it to have a greater meaning. I wanted to dedicate my life to changing the cancer landscape for all the survivors and caregivers coming behind us.”
“Almost 10 years later, I’m still as passionate about my service to oncology as when I made that decision. When I meet with survivors, I see my husband. When I meet caregivers, I see myself. When I look at the cancer world, I see a world that belongs to all of us. A world that, together, we continue to grow, change, and build on.”
“I wake up every day with the gift of getting to contribute to that world. To me, this is Ubuntu; the gift of fighting for a world that honors all the loved ones we’ve lost and uplifts everyone coming behind us. I’m so honored to be a part of it, and to celebrate all the social workers fighting alongside me.”
Ubuntu is a powerful message that calls for the need of solidarity on all levels, within communities, societies, and globally. It is a concept that resonates in the field of social work because of the interconnected nature of people and their environments. It is hard to come by a person who hasn’t been personally affected by cancer, and by supporting every member of the cancer care team, we are helping to make a difference in cancer.
CONQUER: the patient voice features inspiring, touching, and relatable personal cancer stories and artwork created by patients as a form of healing.
We encourage patients with cancer, cancer survivors, family members, caregivers, oncology navigators, oncologists, patient advocates, and other members of the cancer care team to share their personal stories and artwork!