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Cancer Survivors Send Messages of Support to Chemo Patients – LA Times Article

When Sydney Siegel, a social worker at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, learned in March that UCLA’s infusion clinics would no longer allow visitors — even for first-time chemo patients — she was determined to help offset that loss of support.

“For many people, having a loved one by your side on that first day — whether a family member or friend — that physical presence is so important,” she said.

As she brainstormed with co-workers, Siegel recalled the many patients she’d seen in counseling who had asked what they could do to support others with cancer. She also thought about a box she keeps at home; it’s filled with letters from friends, family and co-workers.

“I consider letters to be such a precious gift,” she said. “It is your own unique thoughts and life experience committed to paper, and then committed to another human. It’s a sacred process.”

Excerpt from “The pandemic made cancer treatment even harder. These survivors are helping” by Deborah Netburn for LA Times

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to adapt and find ways to care for ourselves and each other. We are so pleased to share that one of The Simms Mann Center’s new programs, From the Chemo Chair: My Heart to Yours, which has connected letters written by survivors to newly diagnosed patients facing their first day of chemotherapy, has earned recognition on the front page of today’s LA Times.

The column by Deborah Netburn highlights the impact of this unique program, created by Center clinician, Sydney Siegel, MSW, and implemented by the team and our nursing colleagues in the community practices. The letters provide support and encouragement to patients who must undergo chemotherapy without their family or friends by their side due to COVID-19 distancing protocols. We hope you will have a chance to read the article yourself and will feel a sense of pride, as we do, about the innovative, whole person care the Center strives to make possible. Click the link to read the article.

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