Meghan Fox, LRT/CTRS, CCLS, is a psychosocial support coordinator and child life specialist for the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the N.C. Cancer Hospital, UNC Lineberger’s clinical partner. She has a true passion for supporting our pediatric patients and their families.
Fox, born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, is dually certified in recreational and child life therapy. She began her career at UNC eight years ago with a fellowship at UNC Medical Center. She is proud to have found a place with the pediatric hematology-oncology team, led by Stuart Gold, MD, that puts an emphasis on truly comprehensive care.
What does your role at the N.C. Cancer Hospital entail?
“I facilitate various different support programs and events for pediatric hematology-oncology patients and their families. One example is the family retreat, which provides a weekend for patients and their families to get away from the stresses of cancer, blood disorders or immune disorders. The retreats allow our patients to spend a weekend just having fun, being able to be kids again.
I also advise a wonderful group of UNC students who are part of the Carolina Pediatric Attention Love and Support program, or CPALS program. CPALS is a UNC student group and the members are registered UNC Medical Center volunteers. They volunteer in our clinic and inpatient playroom, and they eventually can be matched one-to-one with a patient ‘pal,’ which allows the students to provide direct support and bond with the patients. These students are amazing, and I’m so inspired by how much they give back to our patients.”
How do you help patients prepare to return to school after they’ve been diagnosed with cancer or undergone treatment?
“Our patients may be feeling uneasy about returning to school without their hair or are worried about someone bumping into their port-a-cath. I can help ease some of those fears. I also can answer questions that classmates may have, such as assuring them that they can’t ‘catch’ cancer. I coordinate very closely with the patient, parents or caregivers, teachers, principals, school counselors and school nurses on how to best support the patient as they return to the classroom.
For our elementary school-aged patients, I do a presentation in the class. I do a lot of medical play experiments that can help children better understand the diagnosis, the importance of good hand hygiene, and the effects of chemotherapy. It’s a very hands-on presentation. These presentations have helped a lot of kids feel more comfortable being back at school, and they help teachers address the subject.”
What is a particularly rewarding experience you’ve had on the job?
“I recently did a school reentry presentation with a child who was shy and got very emotional when he would talk about his diagnosis. He had some fears about being bullied at school, so it was a big deal for him to agree to do this presentation with me. Being able to accompany him and see how his classmates asked thoughtful questions about his diagnosis and treatment was incredible. As we walked out of the class he got lots of high-fives and well wishes from his classmates.”
What do you think you’d be doing career-wise today if you weren’t a psychosocial coordinator?
“I’m a big dog lover. My boyfriend and I have always joked around about owning a dog-friendly bar in Raleigh. We also love to travel so I could see myself doing some travel blogging.”