Nina Decker, MSW, LCSW, is a member of the KCA’s Clinical Advisory Board and sees patients at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. We spoke about her work supporting kidney cancer patients.
I have only been with the KCA since late summer of 2020. I was asked to join the Clinical Advisory Board to diversify the perspectives that had traditionally been only nurses. In my 40-year career as a Clinical Social Worker, I have worked with cancer patients exclusively only during the last 4 years. However, most of my career was spent in the ICU with various patients with problems that encompassed tragic accidents, strokes, and other illnesses that included cancer. I was motivated to join the KCA’s CAB because of my interest in the treatments now available to kidney cancer patients and the shift in focus from the short-term treatment options to the long view for many who will live with kidney cancer as a chronic illness. Bringing my understanding of the psychosocial and emotional aspects and challenges of the disease on patients and their families’ lives was my goal.
I became interested in social work in the medical field due to growing up with a mother who was a nurse and my love of science and its implications on our lives. The most meaningful part of my work is this: bad things like illness and injury will continue to happen globally, and I cannot stop those things from happening. But in my role as a Clinical Social Worker, with my skills and experience, I can help these experiences be less destructive and help people access their own strengths to cope with the crises presented in their lives. I also enjoy that each individual and family with their own personalities and histories make the work unique as people are more than a diagnosis. My teachers have been the people I have been privileged to help and work with.
My favorite travel destination is Italy. My husband and I sailed on a small yacht with 45 people exploring Sicily and the Amalfi Coast, and it was heaven to us.
In my free time, I read about travel, especially to Europe. I also have a secret obsession with Nantucket Island and hope to visit someday soon.