BATON ROUGE, LA (LOCAL33) (FOX44) – A social worker is bettering the lives of those in the deaf community dealing with cancer.
Imagine being told you have cancer. Now imagine being told that with out the ability to hear or understand what the person delivering the news is telling you.
“They’re sitting there, they just got this diagnosis of cancer, all these thoughts are racing and they’re being told to wait on an interpreter.”
When those situations come up, that is when Brynn Millet Thompson comes in. Thompson is an Oncology Social Worker for Ochsner Cancer Center in Baton Rouge. Thompson is also fluent in sign language.
“If i’m able to go into that situation and I’m able to just sign to them, and say ‘hello my name is Brynn’ their eyes just light up,” said Thompson.
She’s been signing for over 10 years, and quickly fell in love with the deaf community.
“I was put here because I was meant to be here. I have no deaf family or friends, outside of the people that I’ve met, and I was just pulled into this,” said Thompson.
She noticed a lack of effective and meaningful communication for the deaf and hard of hearing, and immediately volunteered to step in and help.
“I saw that in several patients that come through the clinic here, and just the relief that they had when they could talk to somebody. It has been something I’m passionate about, and I want deaf people to feel comfortable when they come here.”
She said cancer is much more than just a diagnosis.
“It’s not just physical concerns about vomit, fatigue, pain. It’s more about you know, how am I going to cope with this, talk to my family about this and prepare for end of life?”
She’s made it her goal to help make that journey a little less scary.
“It’s nice to be able to go into an environment, especially under this type of stress and finding put this life limiting diagnosis, and be able to just talk to them like I would with any other patient.”
Today, she continues to offer support and encouragement for all patients.
“I’ve always loved the fact and strived to make a deaf person’s life as normal as ours. They are normal people just like we are,” said Thompson.
Ochsner offers a number of services to accommodate both cancer patients and those that are deaf or hard of hearing.
To learn more about Ochsner’s support groups for cancer patients and their caregivers click here.
To find more resources for the deaf and hard of hearing visit the following websites.