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Life with Cancer Staff List
Carrie Friedman, RN, BS
James Zabora, ScD, MSW
Sage Bolte, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, Metastatic Breast Cancer Counselor
Sage came to Life with Cancer in June 2004, after completing two years of psychosocial oncology research and patient care at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Sage joined the staff to help develop a program that specifically addresses the needs of the women, men and families impacted by metastatic breast cancer. Sage provides individual, couples and family counseling and facilitates several support groups including the breast, metastatic breast and young adult groups. Her areas of interests and expertise are sexuality and cancer and the various issues that face those both those with metastatic disease and the young adult population. She received her master's in social work from the University of Michigan and is graduating in May 2010 with a Ph.D. of social work from The Catholic University, in Washington, DC. Originally from the West Coast, Sage resides in Fairfax County with her husband, Jeff and sons Gavin and Jecen.
Drucilla Brethwaite, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, Oncology Counselor
Drucilla joined the Life with Cancer staff in 1998 and provides counseling to individuals, couples and families to promote adjustment to illness and improved quality of life. Areas of interest include couples, insomnia, mind-body wellness, caregivers, resiliency, end of life, and grief/bereavement; and she is available to provide presentations on these topics. In collaboration with colleagues she has helped create and conducts psychoeducational programs on Exploring Mind-Body Techniques, Tools for Couples Facing Cancer, Insomnia, Crafting a Legacy and Maintaining Resiliency. Drucilla co-facilitates a number of groups including the Blood Cancers Group, Stem Cell/BMT Group, Partners in Care Group, Drumming for Well-Being and Good Grief Bereavement Group. She earned a master's in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University, is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, is licensed as a clinical social worker in the Commonwealth of Virginia and certified in oncology social work. Drucilla is also an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University, teaching in the Social Work Department.
Paul Clark, PhD, LCSW, Oncology Counselor
Paul is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than two decades of practical experience in health and mental health. He joined the Life with Cancer staff as an oncology counselor in June 2005. He holds a master's degree in social work from Norfolk State University and a Ph.D. in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. When working part-time at Life with Cancer, Paul facilitates or co-facilitates a support group for people living with lung cancer and melanoma, and is an active member of the Life with Cancer Research Committee. Paul has research interests in health literacy, distress, and health disparities among people with cancer and their families. When not at Life with Cancer, Paul is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at George Mason University.
Connie Connor, MSW, LCSW, Pediatric Counselor
Connie joined the Life with Cancer staff as the pediatric oncology social worker in September 2004 after working for five years as one of the inpatient Social Workers on the Pediatric Oncology Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital. In her current position, Connie provides support and education to children with cancer and their families during and after treatment for childhood cancer.¬† In addition to seeing families in the clinic setting, Connie is a member of the multidisciplinary late effects and neuro oncology clinics.¬† Connie also runs a monthly Pediatric Oncology Parent Night, which includes speakers on a variety of treatment related concerns, co-facilitates a monthly Parent Bereavement group, and conducts annual conferences on late effects for teen and young adult survivors of childhood cancer and their parents.¬† Connie received her bachelor's in social work in 1972 from Boise State University and her master's in social welfare with a concentration in direct services in aging from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982. Connie has more than 35 years of experience including five previous positions in adult oncology in California and Idaho as well as working as a therapist in community mental health programs in California and Kentucky. In 2011 CBTF awarded Social Worker of the Year to Connie at the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers (APOSW) annual conference. :: Back to top ::
Deborah Cook, RN, Oncology Nurse Education Coordinator
Deborah joined the Life with Cancer team in the spring of 2004 as a 10 year Inova Health System veteran. After graduating from Georgetown University Nursing School, she spent the next 24 years of her career practicing in various critical care specialties as clinician, educator and manager. A breast cancer diagnosis catalyzed a career move into oncology where in 1999 Deborah helped define and grow the breast care program at Inova Fairfax Hospital as the Breast Care Program Coordinator. Her passion has led to speaking in the community on her oncology nursing knowledge and survivorship. In 2007, Deborah expanded her role as oncology patient educator to include all cancer diagnoses; co-facilitating support groups, meeting with both in and out patients to discuss their diagnosis, treatment plan, management of side effects, survivorship plans, and resources. She has developed and grown Life with Cancer education programs at Inova Loudoun and Fair Oaks Hospitals and in the surrounding communities. Deborah is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and co-founder of the National Coalition of Oncology Nurse Navigators. Since 1999, Deborah has been active in her church as Area Lay Pastor for Healing and Prayer, leader of medical missions to Uganda and a member of the Spiritual Council.
Darah W. Curran, MSW, Oncology Counselor
Darah joined Life with Cancer in September 2009 after a year-long internship with the organization.¬† She works part-time at INOVA's pediatric oncology clinic providing psychosocial support to families.¬† Darah works additional hours with adults providing both inpatient and outpatient counseling.¬† She co-facilitates the Parenting Alone group and Off-therapy group for children.¬† Darah received her master's in social work from Catholic University after having worked in home-based family counseling for 10 years.¬†¬†
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Susan Gilmore, MS, ACSM Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer
Since 2003, Susan has conducted exercise programs for cancer survivors at Life with Cancer, while maintaining a heavy schedule of exercise programming with private clients. She is a member of and certified by the following organizations: American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and most recently, in 2010, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as one of the 150 ACSM certified cancer exercise trainers in the United States. Susan is also a Master Trainer in the Bender Method of Core Training, and has published trade journal articles on the value of fitness and wellness. For more than three decades Susan trained private in-home clients and conducted fitness classes for Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and other organizations in Northern Virginia. She is the former Swim Coach for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA for which she was twice honored by the Washington Post as Metropolitan Swim Coach of the Year.
Sabine Gnesdiloff, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, Program Manager
Sabine is one of the initial Life with Cancer staff members, having been with the organization since February 1989. Prior to that, she was a social worker in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She earned her master's in social work in 1987 from Catholic University and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Oncology Social Worker. Sabine has developed and facilitated many of the groups and programs offered at Life with Cancer, and has a special interest in survivorship, complementary therapies, and bereavement. She is responsible for the clinical services and groups provided by the Life with Cancer staff, seeing the clinicians‚Äô role as supporting and empowering patients in their care and choices. Originally from Germany, Sabine spent 20 years in California where she was a reference librarian at Stanford University and other San Francisco Bay area libraries, before moving to the East Coast in the 1980's. She also holds master's in library science and German literature, from the California State University System, as well as a bachelor's degree in international relations. Sabine lives in the woods of Great Falls, Virginia, with her husband John and is the proud mother of two wonderful and well-travelled daughters (Sascha and Kira) and delighted grandmother of Maya.
Marsha Komandt, RN, BSN, OCN, Oncology Education Coordinator
Before coming to work at Life with Cancer in 1990, Marsha worked as a nurse on the oncology unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital for eight years. She is currently one of the Oncology Education Coordinators at Life with Cancer and is an Oncology Certified Nurse. Marsha is a Buckeye, having graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in nursing. In her now part-time status, she oversees the Life with Cancer Family Center Library, two exercise programs and the Living with Breast Cancer program series of education and exercise. She also facilitates the Spirituality Quest Group and co-facilitates the Leukemia Group. Marsha is active in her church as the Health and Wellness Coordinator, having taken the certification course in Parish Nursing at Shenandoah University. She also participates in the community as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Wolf Trap, and with the local chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, of which she is a past-president.
Ver√≥nica Mart√≠nez, MS, CPHL, Hispanic Outreach Coordinator
Veronica's started her career in nursing 26 years ago working on the oncology floor at D.C.'s Children's Hospital after earning her bachelor's in nursing from George Mason University. Her clinical experience focused on families and children in acute care as well as primary care settings. Working at Inova's Pediatric Center for many years, Veronica witnessed considerable health disparities in their largely Hispanic population. This prompted a need for more advanced practice skills to better understand and address these issues. Veronica earned her master's in nursing in community and public health nursing from the University of Virginia in 2006. She is board-certified as a Public Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. Veronica views cancer, especially Hispanics with cancer, from a community perspective.¬† She is delighted to have the opportunity to blend her passions for Hispanic health advocacy, health promotion, and complementary body-mind therapies.¬† Her current role as Outreach Coordinator for LWC's Hispanic programs ties all of these pieces together with the goal of eliminating barriers to our support services. Veronica resides in Herndon with her children.
Jean McCaw, MA, ATR-BC, Art Therapist
Jean joined Life with Cancer in August 2008. She is a registered and board certified art therapist and earned her master's degree from Vermont College of Norwich University. She has worked with children, teens and families for more than 20 years and has provided art therapy in a variety of settings. Prior to joining Life with Cancer, Jean was in private practice and for many years managed the Child & Adolescent Program for a large hospice. Through Life with Cancer and a grant from the Tracy's Kids Foundation, Jean has implemented an art therapy program for children and teens who are in treatment for cancer. She also co-leads support groups for children and teens who have a family member affected by cancer. She lives in Northern Virginia with her 3 sons, Alex, Luke and Graham.
David McGinness, MSW, LCSW, Hispanic Program Coordinator
David is a Licensed Clinical Social worker with almost twenty years experience in health and mental health.¬† He joined the Life with Cancer staff as Hispanic Program Coordinator in January of 2011. ¬†David received his BA in psychology in 1995 and MSW in 2001, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.¬† He facilitates monthly Spanish-language cancer support groups at the Life with Cancer Center, and at a site in Alexandria.¬† David also provides outpatient oncology counseling in English, and co-facilitates a monthly prostate cancer support group at the INOVA Alexandria Cancer Center.¬† He has interests in cultural aspects of the cancer experience, mind-body tools for wellness, and the effects of life-threatening illness on relationships.
Shara Sosa, MSW, LCSW, Oncology Counselor
Shara joined Life with Cancer in January 1999. She provides outpatient counseling at the Life with Cancer Family Center and at the Inova Alexandria Cancer Center. She also co-facilitates a variety of support and education groups in these locations.¬† Shara meets with inpatients at Inova Fairfax Hospital and also presents at community agencies and national conferences.¬† Shara continues to work at Life with Cancer part-time so that she may spend more time raising her family.
Micheline Toussaint, MSW, LCSW, RYT, Oncology Counselor
Micheline is an Oncology Counselor at Life with Cancer. A social worker for more than 20 years, Micheline developed an interest in complementary mind-body approaches to healing while growing up overseas in Asia. In addition to being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she is a Registered Yoga Teacher, a Certified Psychodramatist, and a Certified End-of-Life Counselor. At Life with Cancer she provides individual, couples and family counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones. She helped develop a mind-body education series, leads yoga and meditation classes for patients and caregivers, facilitates support groups, and speaks to community groups about issues related to cancer. Micheline has a particular interest in using mind-body practices to strengthen resiliency in cancer patients and their caregivers.
Saundra Weller, MSW, LCSW Program Coordinator/Oncology Counselor
Saundra Weller is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 30 years of health care experience. She graduated from the University of Maryland at Baltimore with her master's of social work and a specialization in health care.¬† Her work experience has consisted of working in small and large hospital systems providing psychosocial services to inpatients and families dealing with illness adjustment.¬† She has also worked for hospice and palliative care providing counseling and education services for patients and their families facing end-of-life issues. She has expertise in grief and loss and facilitation of bereavement support groups. Saundra joined Life with Cancer in January 2007 to expand Life with Cancer programs and counseling services to Inova Loudoun Hospital and Inova Fair Oaks Communities.¬† Saundra also teaches as an adjunct professor for George Mason University Social Work Department.