By Thelma D. Jones

Julia H. Rowland, PhD; Courtesy of Author

The Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF) will host the celebratory launch of its first breast cancer support group meeting for 2020 on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m., at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 555 Water St. SW, Washington, DC 20024. 

Julia H. Rowland, PhD, Senior Strategic Advisor, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, will be the launch’s guest speaker. Dr. Rowland will talk about the meaning, elements, and importance of advocacy – a recurring annual theme for January that not only sets the tone for the year but also indicates what will follow in subsequent TDJBCF Breast Cancer Support Group meetings.

Previous speakers on the topic have included Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-D), Bonita Pennino, former Government Relations Director for DC and MD, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Andrea Roane, advocate and former long-time WUSA-9 journalist who championed the popular Buddy Check 9 program. 

In addition to discussing advocacy, Dr. Rowland will talk about the role of complementary or integrative therapies (versus typical conventional therapies like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy) and their role in quality cancer care, including debunking myths and misunderstandings about these therapies. Lastly, Dr. Rowland will provide an overview on the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts and their signature retreats. Smith Center is a 23-year old nonprofit that provides integrative care services to cancer patients and their families in the heart of Washington, DC.

Dr. Rowland is a long-time clinician, researcher, and teacher in the area of psychosocial aspects of cancer. She has worked with and conducted competitively funded research among both pediatric and adult cancer survivors, as well as publishing broadly in psycho-oncology. Armed with a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, Dr. Rowland completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and went on to hold joint appointments in pediatrics and neurology. 

In 1990, Dr. Rowland moved to Washington, DC to become the founding Director of the Psycho-Oncology Program at Georgetown University and the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Nine years later, she was recruited to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to become the first full-time Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship. There she helped build national awareness of and generate funding for cancer survivorship research and care. Since retiring from the NCI in September 2017, Dr. Rowland has assumed the role of Senior Strategic Advisor to Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, where she hopes to bring the growing evidence-based best practices in quality survivorship care to the broader DC community. 

In addition, Charity Sade, a stand-up comedian, writer, and instructor will talk about her diagnosis (pre-post and advocacy) and how comedy became a coping mechanism to help her heal. Sade has always used humor to get through difficult moments in her life, including her breast cancer diagnosis in 2013 at the age of 27. Diagnosed with Stage 3C Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC, and BRCA 2 Positive, Sade is the Founder and Lead Facilitator of Coping Through Comedy. She works with people that have been affected by cancer, or other traumas, and teaches them how to use comedy and writing as a healthy coping mechanism. During the support group meeting, Sade will also lead and tell a comedic story. 

Coping Through Comedy is a grassroots organization with the mission of using humor to create a safe space for people who are healing physically, mentally, and spiritually. When facing cancer or any challenging life experiences, laughter can lead to healing and connect us with others. 
For information on the January meeting or the TDJBCF, visit, email or call 202-251-1639.

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