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Monday, December 13, 2010
Ev Malkin, LICSW
After nearly three decades with the Cancer Center, Pediatric Oncology Social Worker, Ev Malkin, LICSW is retiring this January.
Q: How did you enter the field of social work?
Ev: It took me almost twenty years to get my degree! I took a class here and a class there while raising my family, so it took quite a while to finish up. I made a pact with my oldest son that I would complete my Master’s degree before he finished high school, and just made it.
I started out working with developmentally disabled young adults. Then, when I came to the Mass General Cancer Center in 1981 I worked mainly with adult patients in Cox Radiation. I still have patients and families from support groups I started down in Cox over a decade ago that keep in touch. It’s wonderful to see these support networks remain in place while the members’ lives change.
I chose to focus on pediatrics when I moved over to theFrancis H. Burr Proton Center.
Q. What is the most important part of your role as a social worker?
Ev: I'd say being supportive, empathetic and available come first. Then, making the connections between patients and families. It’s incredible to see people in similar situations come together, bond and support each other through the experience. We’ve had groups of teens we’ve connected, which has been wonderful; it’s hard for kids that age to be away from their schools and their interests and to share their experiences with adults.
That’s also one of the great things about Christophers’ Haven (where many Proton patients and their families stay during treatment). Not only do they provide a much-needed affordable housing option during treatment, but they draw people close together. It’s so important to create a supportive environment for patients and families, particularly in the Proton Therapy Center, when so many patients are away from their homes for extended periods of time.
Q: What has been the best part of your job?
Ev: The children. They are so dear; they are gallant. They live in the moment. Children can be afraid on their first day of treatment – they often tell me the treatment room looks like a spaceship – but after their first visit it becomes easier, and they even come to look forward it. Children deal with their illness as something that needs to be handled, and they just do it. It’s more difficult for the parents, who look more to the near and distant future.
Q: Ev, you’ve left an indelible mark on the Cancer Center and an incredible impact on the lives of many patients. What is your advice for those who care for patients with cancer?
Ev: Develop a “listening ear.” Walk in slowly, get a sense of each individual or family, and make sure each person is truly heard. Never act on assumptions. It’s very important to be in the same place as the family. Listen, and be there for them. One needs to be welcoming, because that’s the first step in providing support.
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