Why cancer rehabilitation?
Cancer rehabilitation as a specialty is relatively new, as cancer treatments have become increasingly successful at helping people survive this disease. Now we can focus on helping people thrive, which is exactly what rehabilitation neuropsychology is all about- understanding a person’s strengths, identifying what changes in cognitive functioning (thinking, memory, attention, etc.), emotional adjustment, or behavior require new strategies and new kinds of support, and guiding people towards what is most likely to be helpful for them. It is exciting to be a part of such a meaningful area of growth in medicine, and to be part of the learning process for identifying treatments that can make a difference for so many people. On a personal note, cancer has impacted my family and close friends in many ways, and this is one way I can honor them and serve others going through similar challenges.
Clinical interests within the sub-specialty?
I am very interested in the interplay between cognitive functioning (thinking, memory, attention, language, etc.) and emotional adjustment, and helping people find ways to meet the goals that are most valued for them despite changes in functioning caused by cancer and cancer treatments. This interest has lead me to working a lot with people dealing with brain tumors, but also people experiencing “brain fog” after treatment for other cancers. I’m especially interested in finding new ways to identify and measure these problems to improve our ability to develop effective treatments.
What is the future of cancer rehabilitation?
I think the ideal future is one in which the standard of care across the country involves teams of specialists from multiple disciplines specialized in cancer, well-coordinated and providing treatments that have a significant positive impact on functioning. Ideally these teams treat the whole person and work in concert with each other so that we don’t miss an important issue that is impacting quality of life. There should be resources available to assist patients with implementing the strategies after treatment, and accessing what they need in their own homes and communities, as well as follow-up consultations with the team to adjust the plan as needed over the long term. We strive for this level of care at Michigan Medicine, and are fortunate to have so many talented and dedicated care providers working together. I would like to see this kind of programming become more accessible and widely available, particularly to underserved populations.
First concert/best concert?
Music has always been a big part of my life. My mother worked in the music industry when I was a kid, and we used to go to shows all the time. My first concert was probably seeing George Michael on the Faith tour when I was maybe 5 years old. Pretty scandalous! I don’t think I can give one answer for best concert. I spent time in NYC for graduate school, and I think the coolest thing I may have ever seen while I was there was Iggy Pop playing the Bowery Ballroom, climbing the speaker stack and crowd-surfing over us like he was still 20 years old.
Favorite Ann Arbor restaurant?
Blue Llama Jazz Club, if you’re feeling fancy.
We rescued a big, goofy bicolor cat during the pandemic. His name is Arturo, and he loves chasing ping pong balls!
During a break in grad school, my husband and I swapped apartments with a person in Berlin for a month. We bought cheap bicycles at a flea market, and spent the month riding around the city, exploring. I have an abiding love now for currywurst.