How Social Work Helped Musician David Rubinstein | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I went school in Boston and ended up staying there and worked full-time as a freelance musician for about 15 years where I performed with just about every group in Boston and often played with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops and different groups like that. After that, I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. I was told it was a slow growing cancer, which is a good thing, but unfortunately there is no cure for the cancer, which is not so great. It was fairly soon after I was diagnosed that I was told talking with a social worker was available to me. My goal is to help people find ways to keep the cancer and the treatment experience in the background as much as possible so that they really can focus on living their life. The therapists here like Bruce they have a lot more knowledge about cancer in general and maybe your specific cancer so they have a little more understanding of what physically you might be going through, more knowledge about what it's like to go through a trial and the fears and the hopes and all of that. A social worker like myself is able to step in to really help orient someone to a new situation in their life. He's very helpful with talking about everything from the daily grind to the larger existential questions of life. And he can also tell me "this is very common, a lot of people feel this way." Because you feel, sometimes, alone, and that's a hard thing. My passion is my instrument. Practicing and preparing is one of the things that makes me feel connected to the world. It makes me feel like I'm not just my disease. When you talk about an illness threatening your life, in his case it's not just threatening his ability to stay alive but it's threatening his livelihood. His heart and heart and soul is as a musician and as a teacher. Being able to talk with somebody like Bruce is invaluable to help me stay in the moment and stay focused on my life and having a life.

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