An interview with UPMC Susquehanna Cancer Center’s June Zimmerman
Throughout the month of March, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is celebrating Social Work Month 2017 with their “Social Workers Stand Up” campaign.
Every day, social workers across the country stand up for others, positively impacting the lives of countless individuals. They are trained to look at situations in a holistic way and they help people increase their ability to solve problems, to cope with stressors and to access needed resources. They advocate, support, protect and encourage.
For over 25 years, oncology social worker June Zimmerman has done just that. As a member of the Cancer Care Team at UPMC Susquehanna Cancer Centers, June has joined her team members to bring hope and healing to patients and their families.
In January, June was one of six outstanding individuals honored with the American Cancer Society Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award, a prestigious national honor for their leadership in serving the complex needs of cancer patients and their families.
The Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award recognizes individuals who consistently exhibit excellence and compassion in providing care to cancer patients, going beyond their duties to make a difference in the life of cancer patients and their families. This award also represents the concept of the “warm hand of service,” which is an integral part of the Society’s commitment to excellence in cancer care and specifically emphasized by Lane W. Adams when he served as executive vice president of the American Cancer Society. Lane’s definition of the warm hand of service was to “serve others and enrich the purpose of one’s existence.”
Home Page correspondent Sara Vogt had the opportunity to talk to June about her life’s passion.
“You go into this field because you have a passion for helping others,” June explained. “I think it’s a very important job to do in oncology. Individuals might not know the type of support that they would require or need. My job is to help them figure that out… and to figure out what resources would be best for that patient, so just as [medical] treatment is tailored specifically to the individual; social work is also tailored specifically to the individual.”
June is also grateful when she has the opportunity to connect individuals who may have a like diagnosis so that they can support one another. “Once that connection is made, individuals in today’s society are texting and talking, comparing treatments and side effects, which is very positive, very supportive, and I think it’s very healthy.”
Sara noticed that June had a special bond with patient Jim Reed.
“Jim and I went to high school together,” June said, “And our career paths have crossed over the years. Then a couple of years ago Jim came to our center as a patient. And I think that when an individual comes to a cancer center and recognizes a familiar face, it puts them at ease… I think it is reassuring. And Jim specifically, and his wife, I have known for a good number of years.”
June also organizes contributions of clothing and household items through “June’s Nook” to provide for patients and families in need. (The other two patients in today’s video were Anthony Boroch and Samantha Koser.)
In addition, as noted by the American Cancer Society when she received the Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award, June is the cancer center’s recognized authority on community, state and national programs that provide resources for patients and she will push through any barrier to insure that people have access to care. Her support groups are well-attended and much appreciated by patients and caregivers because of the important information that is provided and the supportive experience it brings to their lives at a most difficult time. Through all these services she has improved the lives of patients and families too numerous to count. She is an extraordinary problem-solver and a compassionate caregiver.
“I always knew that I wanted to go into a field of helping others,” June explained, “And I was fortunate enough that when I graduated college that I started a job in social work.”
For more information on UPMC Susquehanna’s Cancer Centers, please call 570-723-2855 (Wellsboro) or 800-598-4282 (Williamsport), or visit upmcsusquehanna.org/cancer.
Videography: Andrew Moore, Erin O’Shea
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Heather Weiner
Anchor: Rhonda Pearson
Correspondent: Sara Vogt
Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by UPMC Susquehanna