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Meet Ellie, Cancer Care Center Social Worker

Cancer, Human Interest, Cancer/Oncology

Cancer care means more than just trying to cure disease—it’s a whole-person process that can bring a lot of physical, emotional and relational changes. To help patients through their journey, the Adventist Health Cancer Care Center in Chico has added a new member to its team: social worker Ellie McMann, MSW, ACSW. We recently sat down with Ellie to welcome her to her new role and learn more about her background and what led her to join our team.

Tell us a little about your background—where are you from, hobbies, etc.!

​I spent the first half of my life in Whitefish, a resort town in northwestern Montana, and the second half of my life in Houston, Texas, with a three year stint in Austin in my early twenties. I enjoy spending time in Upper Park with my dog, yoga and puzzles. I have also recently gotten into kickboxing! 

What interested you in becoming a social worker?

​I really like that social work takes a "person in environment" perspective, which means that it’s important to understand an individual in light of all the environmental contexts in which that person lives and acts. I originally went into social work to work in early childhood mental health and I was intrigued by medical social work in graduate school, however it wasn't until working with medical staff following the Camp Fire that I really felt the pull to make the transition for mental health to the medical field. 

Where did you study? What was your training like?

​I attended Baylor University for my master’s in social work program, concentration in clinical social work, with a dual focus on children and families and physical and mental health. I also obtained a specialization in child trauma. 

I had two internships while in my master’s program. My first internship was at a nonprofit preschool in inner-city Houston, where I provided behavioral interventions and co-facilitated play therapy sessions. My second internship was here in Chico, providing mental health support as part of the Early Head Start program. I worked to develop the mental health portion of the Early Head Start program, provided behavioral interventions and plans for children, and provided therapy for children and parents. 

What led you to work with cancer patients?

​I have a personal connection to cancer; my brother and sister both have a history of cancer, as well as multiple extended family members. When I saw the job opening with the Cancer Care Center I saw it as a great opportunity to use my skills and desire to support people in one of their most difficult times, while also giving back to a field that was so important to many of my family members. 

What’s the most satisfying thing about working as a social worker with cancer patients?

​The most satisfying thing is the ability to provide supports for the non-medical related parts of cancer treatment, whether that is being an ear to listen, connecting them with resources, supporting their caregivers, or facilitating/organizing groups to provide emotional/physical support and recreational activity. 

What would you like cancer patients to know about working with you on their cancer journey?

​I would like patients to know that I, as well as our whole team, want to care for the whole person while on their cancer journey. This means supporting the patient in all ways, not just treating their medical needs. 

To learn more about all the services at the Adventist Health Cancer Care Center, call 530-330-1042.