Q: How do you help patients cope with all the stress and emotional turmoil of the cancer experience?
Justin: First and foremost, I try to just listen to what they have to say with empathy, compassion and no judgment. I let them know they are not alone and whatever they are feeling at the moment is exactly what they should be feeling. Furthermore, I always mention it takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength to ask for help and show vulnerability. It is these traits that will help them become more active and involved in their treatment and result in more positive outcomes.
Q: How do you cope with the emotional rollercoaster that your job can put you through?
Justin: I cope in several ways:
Trail-running in the mountains around my home as often as I can.
Fly-fishing in Yellowstone National Park.
Regularly sharing my emotions with my co-workers, family and good friends.
Hiking with my wife and dog to our local brewery.
Mindfulness meditation and creative drawing.
Q: What is the number one thing you have learned from being an oncology social worker?
Justin: The number one thing I have learned from being an oncology social worker is actually sort of a selfish thing. I love learning how to face my own adversity in life from the clients, patients and families I have the honor of meeting and working with every single day. Being regularly exposed to people exhibiting an awe-inspiring level of resilience, strength and fortitude in the light of one of life’s biggest challenges humbles me to the core – and makes me want to be a better person and not take a single moment for granted.