This program is being offered virtually through Zoom. In order to participate and receive the Zoom link, register by clicking the RSVP button above or by emailing

You will receive the Zoom information no later than the morning of your program.

with Julia Rowland, PhD

What to Expect as a Cancer Caregiver

Cancer caregivers are ‘hidden’ survivors in the cancer journey.  Many wonder if the help they provide is useful, even though research tells us that caregivers are vital to the wellbeing of their care recipient.
Come learn how caregivers make a difference, discuss the common challenges that caregivers confront, and learn tools and techniques to take good care of yourself.

About Julia Rowland, PhD

Julia Rowland

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. Although new to the team, Julia is no stranger to Smith Center. She knew Smith Center’s founder, Barbara Smith Coleman, and has volunteered her expertise across the years as a speaker, group leader and staff member for both the 1-day and weeklong residential retreats. Julia brings to her new role a passion to translate what research has taught us about healing in the context of cancer to the broader community, in essence, taking the science of survivorship from the lab bench to the park bench.

This program is being offered virtually through Zoom. In order to participate and receive the Zoom link, register by clicking the RSVP button above or by emailing

You will receive the Zoom information no later than the morning of your program.

with Carolina Ruiz, MSW, LCSW, Vashta Thompson, LCSW-C, and Nicole Ramos, MSW, LCSW

VA Caregiver Support

We invite you to join us for an interactive talk about Caregiver Burnout and Self-Care. Given the natural stress and strain that accompany the day-to-day demands of a Caregiver, we are all at risk of experiencing burnout.


Have you or someone you know ever experienced burnout?
What did you (or they) do to start feeling back on track?


Our aim is to introduce strategies that can sustain you in feeling confident, capable and supported in your caregiving role.
By the end of this presentation you will be able to:

  • Identify 4 Self-Care/Mindfulness Activities
  • Learn Ways To Make Social Connections
  • Learn How To Ask For Help
  • Practice Ways To Show Self-Love

All are welcome to participate.


What is the Caregiver Support Program? The Caregiver Support Program (CSP) is essentially two programs under one umbrella: Program of General Caregiver Support Services and Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

What is the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)?
The Caregiver Support Program’s (CSP) PGCSS provides services to caregivers of Veterans of all eras enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare. PGCSS offers a wide array of services to family and friends who care for Veterans, including peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support and online programs.

What is the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC)? The Caregiver Support Program’s (CSP) PCAFC is for eligible Veterans who have incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975 or on or after September 11, 2001. This program provides resources, education, support, a financial stipend, and health insurance (if eligible), beneficiary travel (if eligible), to caregivers of eligible Veterans.

Need Help?
Call the DC Caregiver Support Line (CSL) at 202-745-8000 x55926. E-mail:
Your local Caregiver Support Coordinator is a licensed professional who can support you. They can match you with services for which you are eligible and provide you with valuable information about resources that can help you stay smart, strong and organized as you care for the Veteran you love.

About Carolina Ruiz, MSW, LCSW

Carolina Ruiz graduated with a Masters in Social Work in 2014 from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Carolina spent 7 years working through the Inova Health System in Northern Virginia as a Social Worker/Case Manager helping patients and families with discharge planning and coordinating their care.

She has worked with a multitude of families and caregivers facing challenging needs and guiding them through difficult situations. She understands how demanding and difficult it is to be a caregiver and is honored to be given the opportunity to help support these amazing individuals through the Caregiver Support Program at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. Carolina is a native of Northern Virginia and her favorite form of self-care is binge watching Netflix documentary series.

About Nicole Ramos, MSW, LCSW

Nicole Ramos graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University in New York in 2006.

She currently works as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Washington DC VA Medical Center’s Caregiver Support Program. She has been working with Veterans, their family members and Caregivers since 2014.

During a second year Social Work Internship her Supervisor emphasized the important role Social Workers have to Educate, Empower and Elevate others.
This really resonated with Nicole and over the last 15 years working with children, adolescents, adults, the Geriatric population and now Veterans and Caregivers, she continues to take on this mission. Nicole views working with Caregivers as a privilege and she is humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to work with Caregivers and be of service to others.

If you were to look in her Self-Care Toolbox, you would see that Nicole enjoys spending time with family including her 25 lb. Beagle named “Cash”, reading, watching Crime shows set in the United Kingdom, and being physically active.

About Vashta Thompson, LCSW-C

Vashta Thompson is a Caregiver Support Coordinator for the Program of General Caregiver Support Services at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center (DCVAMC). Ms. Thompson has worked in various departments at the DCVAMC over the last 7 years including inpatient medicine and outpatient clinics. Ms. Thompson has also supported the VA Homemaker Home health Aide Program, Suicide Prevention Program and Integrated Ethics committee.

In addition to serving veterans, Ms. Thompson has previously worked with several home care agencies to provide medical social work support to Medicare and DC-Medicaid recipients. She also currently provides clinical supervision to two journeyman social workers supporting students in DC Public Schools. Originally from a small suburb of Chicago, IL, Ms. Thompson completed her MSW studies at Howard University School of Social Work with a clinical concentration in direct practice mental health.