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The Lucky One - A Social Worker's Story

amy horyna

Like most people, I am often asked where I work and what I do.

When I have the opportunity to share that I’m a social worker at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), I often receive admiration. Sometimes, though, people will reply, "I don’t think I could work there," or "I don’t know how you do that." I find those responses curious—as does every social worker I’m privileged to work alongside. Because we feel we are the lucky ones. We get to work here at HCI. We get the opportunity to meet and provide support to some of the most courageous, strong, and brave people every single day. We are invited into some of the most frightening times in a person or family’s life. We get to be the ones to listen, support, and hold space for some of the most sacred feelings and conversations people have.

As social workers, we also get to work with amazing physicians, advance practice providers, nurses, researchers, and scientists—and the list goes on. Every day we get to be part of meetings with providers and patients about what is happening next in their care. Every day we are invited into the lives and hearts of people whose worlds have been turned upside down. It truly is the best job ever.

I remember once talking with someone who was sharing a lot of worries and fears. In the midst of our conversation, this person wondered how I was able to hold all they were sharing. I reminded them it was my privilege to be their "person." The person to listen to all their feelings, regardless of what they were. Sometimes I get to be the only person in someone’s life who doesn’t need care or protection. I get to be the one who can hear anything they’re holding onto in their mind and heart. So often, patients or their loved ones protect each other by not sharing certain thoughts or feelings, but as a social worker, I can hear anything that feels burdensome. I get to make people feel less alone.

That’s why I love being a social worker. That’s why I love working at HCI. That’s why I love supporting patients and families.