Annie Parker, whose experiences are the subject of the new movie “Decoding Annie Parker,” spoke on the ravages of cancer within her family, with the early deaths of her mother (1965) and sister, and the failure of the medical community to acknowledge the inherited nature of the disease.

Only after she herself was diagnosed with cancer did a doctor finally state that “family history” was a crucial factor; and many years passed before medical researchers identified the inherited genetic basis for her form of cancer. After a lifetime of struggle to understand the nature of the disease, Annie concluded that doctors and nurses were not the “patient, compassionate professionals prepared to be the navigators who can help people like me through the process.” Addressing the audience of clinical social workers, she said, “You people are those navigators—so I ask, Where have you been all my life?”

She speaks for thousands of others looking for the help that clinical social workers are uniquely qualified to provide. Are you doing all that you can to make your system respect your abilities as a clinical social worker, and to connect with the Annie Parker who need you?


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