Planning and Some Changes

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

MAY 23, 2018

And this announcement from the Cancer Center last week has made it all seem very real:

From: Cancer Center at BIDMC
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2018 12:32 PM
Subject: Hester Hill Schnipper


I’m writing to inform you that Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, BCD, OSW-C, will retire as manager of oncology social work on June 29 after 39 years at BIDMC. A transition plan for Hester’s BIDMC practice is being developed.

Hester leaves an incredible legacy behind. When she arrived in 1979, she was Beth Israel Hospital’s first social worker to specialize in oncology. Over the years, she built a widely recognized program that now encompasses eight clinical social workers, a community resource Specialist and a Chinese-language patient navigator.

Some innovations that have taken place under Hester’s leadership include the Patient-to-Patient peer support network, meditation for cancer patients, an annual meditation retreat for metastatic cancer patients, the Celebration of Life program and its successor, the online BIDMC Cancer Community.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Hester has maintained a stance of openness about her personal experiences that has helped legions of women not only cope with cancer but also use it as a catalyst for growth and change. She has authored several books including After Breast Cancer: A Common-Sense Guide to Life after Treatment and Woman to Woman: A Handbook for Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She has also spoken widely, spreading national awareness of the BIDMC Cancer Center and its culture of caring, of which she is the perfect example.

Within the larger oncology community Hester is recognized as a leader, educator and mentor for multiple generations of social workers. Throughout her career she has served on boards and advisory councils for organizations such as the National Association of Social Work (NASW), the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW), and the American Cancer Society (ACS), and additionally taught as an adjunct professor at Simmons and Boston University.

Hester plans to maintain a private practice in Concord. Please join me in thanking her for her contributions to BIDMC, to the Cancer Center and to the field of oncology social work. We wish her all the best in retirement.

Christine VanDeWege
Executive Director, Cancer Care Services

  I am planning to continue with this blog, but there likely will be some changes that I will be learning between now and the end of June. There are some technological issues that complicate things when I no longer have an office and a desk top computer at the hospital. I assume that our smart IT people will figure out a solution. The issues for me to manage are the possibility of writing fewer times a week and changing some of the focus.

  If you are a regular, or an irregular reader, you know that I post five days/week and usually comment on and then share some piece of news about cancer. It has been suggested that i might be more helpful to focus less on the news and more on my own thoughts and experiences and suggestions. This feels challenging, but I am surely going to give it my best efforts. My current thought is that I may reduce entries to 3 or 4 days/week and limit a news flash to one of those days. Other times I will write about something cancer-related, living with cancer, issues around treatment or survivorship or anxiety. etc.

  I have asked if it is possible to add a comment section to the blog. In the old format, there was that possibility. Frankly, it did not always work so well, but it was a wonderful chance to have more of a dialogue. In the meantime, you can please send any thoughts to me at:, and I can include them here.

  And that leads to a question. What is your reaction to these proposed changes and do you have suggestions re how to make this blog more useful and more robust? Hope to hear from you.

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