Sarah Bechard, LMSW, Social Work case manager at The University of Kansas Cancer Center-Overland Park, has received the Lung Cancer Social Worker of the Year Award.
The recognition is from the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) in conjunction with the Go2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. The honor is one of just six annual awards from Chicago-based AOSW.
Part of our health system since 2011, Bechard was honored for her support of patients and clinicians at the Overland Park center, where she helped form a support group for lung cancer patients nearly two years ago. It’s believed to be the only such group for lung cancer patients in the area.
In addition to lung cancer, Bechard works with patients at KUCC-Overland Park facing a variety of cancers, as well as sarcoma patients at Indian Creek Campus.
Bechard “is a passionate, kind, joyful social worker who consistently works to expand resources and to meet the needs of patients,” write colleagues in their letter nominating her.
“A clear demonstration of the rapport Sarah builds and the value she brings to the program is the attendance at our support groups,” they add. Support group attendance among cancer patients can be a real challenge, but with the KUCC group, “not only do patients return week to week, they also recruit others.”
Bechard was nominated for the award by a group of nurses, physicians and a patient – 11 people in all. They cite her clinical skills, support of suicidal patients, “tenacity to keep patients safe” and leadership on their multidisciplinary team.
“Even in the most difficult situations, Sarah remains calm with a clear focus on how to best meet patients’ needs, which she is able to communicate with the care team,” they write. “Her leadership will have a lasting impact on our cancer center.”