Upcoming Support Groups
Cancer Support Group
Monthly on Mondays, 6:00-7:30pm, with Jennifer Bires, LICSW, and Lauren Broschak, MSW, LICSW, OSW-C
This bi-monthly support group provides participants with the opportunity to explore their experience with cancer in a safe group setting with a trained social worker and to connect with others who are facing a similar challenge. This group is designed specifically for individuals that have been diagnosed with cancer.
Survivorship Support Group
Monthly on Tuesdays, 6:30-8:00pm, with Rachel Ress, MSW, LICSW
This group is designed for cancer survivors who have completed their primary cancer treatment(s) and are now either post-treatment or on maintenance medication (such as hormonal therapy). Cancer can be emotionally and physically draining — many times we aren’t able to fully process the experience until after treatment is over and we are trying to get back to our “normal” lives. The struggle and expectation to find “normal” again can also be an overwhelming process. This group is a space where you can talk openly about these issues and process the trauma of cancer with other survivors.
Loss of a Loved One to Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 1st Wednesday, 6:00-7:00pm, with Mindy Brodsky, LCSWA
This monthly support group, facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker, is for anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer. As a group, we will explore the impact of loss and find ways to cope with grief together.
LGBTQ+ Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 4th Wednesday, 6:00-7:00pm, with Elizabeth Belanger, LGSW
This monthly support group is designed for adults diagnosed with cancer who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. The group will is facilitated by a culturally competent Licensed Graduate Social Worker, who will provide a safe space to connect with others and explore your own unique experience with cancer.
Loss of a Parent to Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 4th Monday, 6:00-7:30pm, with Ned O’Hanlan
The loss of a parent from cancer brings with it many complex feelings. Sadness, anger, and regret are just a few of the feelings you may experience. Sometimes friends – and even family members – don’t understand these feelings.
This support group provides a monthly opportunity to join a group of people who may understand.
Nueva Vida Grupo de Apoyo (en Español)
Weekly on Saturdays, 9:00am-12:00pm, with Nueva Vida
En Smith Center, Nueva Vida tendrá grupos de apoyo que se enfocan en el apoyo al trauma asociado con el diagnóstico de cáncer. Estos grupos proporcionan a las latinas la oportunidad de identificar y expresar sus sentimientos, en un lugar seguro, y lleno de empatía, así como compartir sus sentimientos con otras personas que están o han pasado por similares circunstancias. Las reuniones semanales, se combinan con una actividad de reducción del estrés (Zumba o Yoga)
Leukemia and Lymphoma Support Group
Monthly on the last Tuesday, 12:30-1:30pm, with Sara Richman, LICSW, Heather Roche, RN BSN, and Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW
This monthly support group is designed for adult patients/survivors diagnosed with Leukemia or Lymphoma. The group will incorporate education lectures coupled with emotional support. This group is open to people of all ages (18+) who are at any stage of the disease process.
Gynecologic Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 1st Tuesday from 12:30-1:30pm, with Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW
This monthly support group is designed for adult patients/survivors diagnosed with gynecologic cancers (including cervical, endometrial, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers) and their caregivers. The group will incorporate education lectures coupled with emotional support.
Prostate Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 2nd Tuesday from 12:30-1:30pm, with Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW
This monthly support group is designed for adult patients/survivors diagnosed with Prostate cancer. The group will incorporate education lectures coupled with emotional support and is hosted by and offered in partnership with the GW Cancer Center.
Breast Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 1st Tuesday from 6:00-7:00pm, with Erin Price, LICSW, OSW-C
This monthly virtual group is for Stage 1 – 3 Breast Cancer patients and survivors and is open to those newly diagnosed, in treatment, or in survivorship. Come join others dealing with the issues and impacts of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Previvor Support Group
Monthly on the 2nd Thursday (beginning in March) from 6:30–7:30pm, with M’Bahlia Colson and Rachel Ress, LICSW
This group is for previvors who have an elevated predisposition for a cancer diagnosis or those who have tested positive to cancer genetic markers, such as the BRCA gene.
Multiple Myeloma Cancer Support Group
Monthly on the 3rd Tuesday from 12:30-1:30pm, with Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW
This monthly support group is designed for adult patients/survivors diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and their caregivers. The group will incorporate education lectures coupled with emotional support.
Are you taking care of a loved one with cancer? You are not alone. Roughly 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Whether you are caring for your spouse, partner, parent, child, or friend, you have an enormous responsibility and play a crucial role in their health care team. As a caregiver, it is equally important that you care for yourself.
Smith Center offers support and resources that will help you prepare for and deal with the challenges that come from caring for a loved one. Our stress reduction, creative expression, and educational programs can help you feel more balanced, supported, and empowered. You are welcome to attend any of the classes we offer, including weekly therapeutic yoga, alone or with your loved one. From time to time, we also offer programs that are specifically designed with caregivers in mind.
Upcoming Programs Specifically for Cancer Caregivers
Caregiver Support Group
Monthly on Mondays, 6:00-7:30pm, with Julia Rowland, Ph.D.
This group, led by a licensed psychologist, is designed to provide cancer caregivers with the opportunity to meet other caregivers, learn about useful tools for self-care, and explore ways to thrive in the caregiving role.
Meet Our Support Group Facilitators
Erin Price, LICSW, OSW-C
Erin serves as Smith Center’s Director of Young Adult and Psychosocial Support Programs. She is trained in Integrative Patient Navigation, a Project LEAD graduate, and holds a Masters in Social Work. A seven-year breast cancer survivor, Erin is passionate about providing support and community to other cancer survivors, especially young adults. She works with Smith Center’s DC Young Adult Cancer Community and is also actively involved in the cancer community through Young Survival Coalition, Critical Mass, the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates, National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the DC Cancer Action Partnership.
Jennifer Bires, LICSW, OSW-C
Jennifer Bires is a licensed clinical social worker, who works with people affected by cancer. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Jennifer knows how distressing a cancer diagnosis can be for patients and their families. Her goal as an oncology social worker is to help patients and family members adjust to the emotional impact of a diagnosis. Jennifer specializes in working with young adults, caregivers and patients who have advanced disease. She strives to help patients and families maintain a high quality of life in the face of their illness.
Julia Rowland, Ph.D.
Julia Rowland, PhD, who joined Smith Center in October 2017, comes to this position as a long-time clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of psychosocial aspects of cancer. She has worked with and conducted competitively funded research among both pediatric and adult cancer survivors and their families, and published broadly in psycho-oncology, including co-editing, along with Dr. Jimmie Holland, the ground-breaking text, Handbook of Psychooncology. She has also been a frequent speaker on cancer survivorship, or life after cancer, for both professional and lay audiences.
Julia received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in psychosocial oncology. While at MSKCC, where she held joint appointments in pediatrics and neurology, Julia helped to develop and was the first Director of the Post-Treatment Resource Program, one of the first non-medical survivorship care programs to be offered by a major cancer center in the U.S. In 1990 she moved with her husband and two young children to Washington, DC to become founding Director of the Psycho-Oncology Program at Georgetown University and the Lombardi Cancer Center. There she helped expand services to meet the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and families, launched some of the first quality of life clinical trials, and also introduced a program to enable first-year medical students to learn the art of caring for those living through and beyond cancer from survivors themselves and Lombardi faculty. Nine years later, in September of 1999, she was recruited to the National Cancer Institute to become the first, full-time Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship, a position in which she served for 18 years, championing the growth of survivorship research and care, before stepping down in September 2017 to assume her new role at Smith Center.
Lauren Broschak, MSW, LICSW, OSW-C
Lauren is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in DC and Virginia. She has both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Social Work, and has been working in oncology for just over three years. She developed her passion for oncology in Michigan where she worked at Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit supporting those touched by cancer. Since moving to the Metro DC Area she has worked at the GW Cancer Center in Washington, DC and is now an Oncology Clinical Therapist at Life with Cancer in Virginia. Lauren is particularly interested in providing support to the young adult community, and has presented at the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) national conference twice regarding young adults. Most recently, she became the Co-Chair of the Adolescent and Young Adult Special Interest Group at AOSW.
Nueva Vida is an independent nonprofit that provides free, comprehensive, culturally competent cancer services to medically underserved Latino families in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia (as far south as Prince William County), Suburban Maryland (Montgomery & Prince George’s Counties), Richmond, and Baltimore. Other services include outreach to the Latino community and Patient Navigation for cancer screenings and treatment.
Rachel Ress, MSW, LICSW
Rachel is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker serving as Cancer Support Community Washington DC’s (CSC DC) Community Navigator. Prior to working at CSC DC, Rachel was an oncology social worker with the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital for three years. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice where she interned at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Rachel uses an eclectic approach in providing support and compassion to cancer patients and their families, and she is passionate about the intersection of chronic illness and mental health.
Elizabeth Belanger, LGSW
Elizabeth Belanger is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) in Washington DC. Elizabeth received her BA in Psychology with minors in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Elon University and a Master’s in Social Work from Simmons University. Elizabeth strives to provide therapy that is client lead and trauma-informed. She is continuously seeking education on the latest techniques in culturally humble and trauma-informed therapy practices. Elizabeth currently works here in DC at Capitol Hill Consortium for Counseling and Consultation (CCCC) with young adults and adults, with issues pertaining to anxiety, depression, chronic illness, trauma, LGBTQ, and women’s issues.
Mindy Brodsky, LCSWA
Jessica Gelfarb, MSW, LICSW, GW Cancer Center
Jessica is a licensed clinical social worker who has experience working with patients and families facing a range of medical diagnoses in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Michigan and her masters degree in social work from University of Maryland with a focus on clinical and medical social work. Jessica recently joined the team at the George Washington University cancer center as an oncology social worker. Prior to her role at GW Jessica worked extensively with organ transplant patients at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute and co-led the institute’s transplant support group. She has also spent time working on cardiology and intensive care units throughout her career. Jessica initially became interested in pursuing oncology social work after attending the Association of Oncology Social Work’s annual conference a number of years ago as well as observing first- hand the widespread impact that cancer has on so many individuals and families. She is passionate about partnering with patients in order to provide psychosocial and emotional support as they navigate their diagnosis and treatment.
M’bahlia is a mother, educator and a previvor. Her mom died from breast cancer and dad from prostate cancer. After two breast lumptectomies she was diagnosed with a high expentancy of developing breast cancer. She underwent a prophylatic bilateral mastectomy during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic in NYC. To her disbelief, the hospital did not offer any support for women to help navigate this “new” life. Upon returning home to Washington, DC for reconstruction again no community for support, safe space and sharing.
As an educator and administrator for more than 15 years, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Master’s Degree in Education. M’bahlia applies her research and education background to provide resources to her new community to help them make informed decisions and accesss to support groups.
Sara Richman, LICSW
Sara Richman, LICSW is a licensed and certified oncology clinical social worker (OSW-C). She received her masters in social work (MSW) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Prior to working at GW, Sara was an oncology clinical social worker at MedStar Washington Hospital Center where she worked with all types of blood cancers and disorders. She is happy to be a co-facilitator of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Support Group.
Heather Roche, RN BSN
Heather Roche, RN BSN is an oncology nurse navigator at the GW Cancer Center. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to working at GW, Heather was an oncology nurse coordinator at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston where she worked with malignant hematology patients. She is happy to be a co-facilitator of this group.