Smith Center Integrative Navigators: Kiersten Gallagher, Erin Price, & Carole O’Toole
Meet Our Navigation Team
Our 3 integrative cancer care navigators are skilled in offering you information and support from the moment you are diagnosed throughout your cancer journey, serving as your personal guide.
Each of our navigators can help you find and manage your medical care, assist you in coping with treatment side effects, and – as an integrative navigator- educate and support you in selecting and accessing appropriate, evidence-based complementary therapies to use alongside your medical treatments if you so choose, so that you have access to the best of both traditional medical treatment and integrative cancer care.
While our navigators are not medical or mental health care professionals, they have intimate knowledge of resources that may be of interest to you. Our navigators offer emotional support, connect you to resources, and provide tools and skills to reduce your stress and fully engage you in your healing process to live your life the way you wish to.
Kiersten’s experience in integrative health began at an early age with an interest in movement through dance and yoga, followed by a strong curiosity to understand where nutrition fit into wellness. Her fascination with natural healing led to a college degree in botanical medicine and a focus on looking at health care from a holistic approach.
After being diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness and earning a certification to teach yoga, Kiersten began volunteering at a cancer wellness center. There she became the first point of contact for hundreds of newly diagnosed patients and survivors seeking support at all different stages of their healing journey. Kiersten expertly provided them with new tools and strategies and a sense of community.
In 2014 Kiersten came to Smith Center as the Cancer Support Program Director. After completing her training in Integrative Navigation, she joined our Navigation Team that same year, supporting many patients and their loved ones..
Her work stems from her deep belief that we all need to be heard, given a safe space for true authenticity, and that sometimes we need someone to help carry us when we don’t feel we can stand on our own.
Carole found her passion for navigation through her own experience with cancer in 1994. Finding little support for incorporating complementary therapies into her care, Carole applied her master’s degree in medical anthropology to research available complementary therapies that would support her through her medical treatments. That work transformed her understanding of her illness and led her to develop an innovative approach to creating personal integrative healing plans.
Carole joined Smith Center in 2006, where she developed our model of integrative navigation, bringing this service to Washington DC’s underserved community, and created a professional training program in integrative cancer care navigation that is now offered nationally. Carole has consulted with area hospitals on integrative care, developed a private navigation practice, and is the author of two books, Healing Outside the Margins (Lifeline Press) and Cancer Community Healing Network (Silver Lining Press), a local guide to the Washington DC area’s integrative healers. She directs Smith Center’s Institute of Integrative Oncology Navigation advocating on a national level for integrative cancer care, leads the Center’s Integrative Navigation Team and directs our signature retreats for adults with cancer.
Carole has personally experienced the healing power of tapping into and using one’s innate wisdom in facing cancer, and is honored to assist others in drawing from their own wellspring of inner knowledge. Her goal is to offer the bond of survivorship that is a powerful conduit for support and understanding, share her knowledge of complementary therapies and the cancer community, and encourage and empower each person facing cancer to more fully engage in their healing.
Erin Price, LGSW
Erin was driven to help others facing cancer shortly after her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2010. Since then, she has become a leader in our local cancer community, with a special interest in advocating for and providing support to young adults diagnosed with cancer.
Erin is an expert in providing psychosocial support to meet patients’ whole-person needs, and a force for change in the DC area young adult cancer survivor community. She also provides support and resources to young women diagnosed with breast cancer in the DC area through her work with the Young Survival Coalition, where she serves as a State Leader, Face-to-Face Support Group co-leader, and RISE Legacy Advocate. Erin is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD scientific research advocacy training and an experienced Grant Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. She is also a member of the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates when she works with a team of patient advocates alongside researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders to ensure research is patient-centered, innovative, evidence-based and accessible. Erin represents Smith Center as a member of the DC Cancer Action Partnership and formerly served as the co-chair of the Survivorship and Palliative Care Committee. She recently completed a Masters in Clinical Social Work at the Catholic University of America and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LGSW) in the District of Columbia.
Erin believes in the importance of connection during cancer treatment and into survivorship. Her goal is to help people find appropriate resources for healing and thriving in the face of cancer. She also believes in the power of community and helps those faced with cancer connect to other survivors so that no one has to go through cancer alone.
Specialty Navigation: Nutrition, Pain, and Palliative Care
Laura Pole is an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and Health Supportive Chef who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation and education services for over 35 years. Her interest in integrative cancer care began way before the field was well-known. She has spent years learning about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) so that she could help both patients and clinicians become aware of safe and effective therapies to weave into conventional cancer care. She is also helping shape the practice of culinary translation—helping people with practical ways to translate a diet prescription into delicious healthy food. Laura’s earliest passion in oncology care has been helping people manage pain and other distressing symptoms. Along with that, she helps people talk about and choose care that aligns with their goals, wishes, and values.
Laura is Director of Nourishment Education Programs and retreat head chef for Smith Center. She is the Co-Creator and Co-Coordinator of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts’ national training in integrative oncology patient navigation. She is Senior Researcher for Commonweal’s “Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies” project to provide patients, clinicians and researchers with the best available resources for integrating conventional and integrative cancer therapies. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” Listserv for Smith Center. For most of her career, Laura has also been consulting with and educating patients and professionals in palliative care and advance care planning.