StoryCorps to capture parents’ stories at Siteman Cancer Center

Nationally recognized StoryCorps will visit the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine April 17-21 as part of a collaborative project to better understand how parents with cancer discuss the diagnosis with their children. This visit is the first time that StoryCorps, the largest oral history project of its kind, has partnered to collect the stories of cancer survivors on a single topic.

In addition to gathering stories about how parents communicate with their children, the study hopes to identify the most effective ways for parents to tell their children about this disease.

StoryCorps also will visit Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital April 24-27 and Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital April 30-May 3.

“Most parents diagnosed with cancer aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about it, and there aren’t many resources available to help them,” says Matthew Kreuter, Ph.D., an adviser on this StoryCorps partnership and director of the Health Communications Research Laboratory at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. “This project will help future cancer patients prepare for and make the most of these conversations.”

While at each Siteman Cancer Center, trained facilitators from StoryCorps will record six parent/child pairs per day. To be eligible, parents who had or have cancer must be willing to share in detail how they told their child or children they had cancer. They also must have a child, 18 or older, to whom they disclosed their cancer diagnosis when the child was younger than 18. The adult child should be able to recall and share detailed memories of being told their parent had cancer.

To help guide the discussion during the 40-minute interview, StoryCorps facilitators will provide the participants with a list of suggested questions.

Parent/child pairs also must be willing to take part in a survey and an interview after the recording.

“StoryCorps is perfectly positioned to gather stories on cancer-related topics,” says Linda Squiers, Ph.D., principal investigator of the research project and a senior health communication analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute. “We hope to pave the way for StoryCorps to gather stories at other cancer centers across the country. If we are able to use these stories to develop communication tools for newly diagnosed parents, we will fill a large gap in clinical resources for patients.”

For more information or to sign up for an interview, call (314) 935-3768.

About Washington University School of Medicine

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

About Siteman Cancer Center

Siteman Cancer Center is the only federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. Siteman Cancer Center is composed of the combined cancer research and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Siteman has satellite locations in West County and St. Peters, in addition to its full-service facility at Washington University Medical Center on South Kingshighway.

About StoryCorps

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening. As one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps is creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans. In soundproof StoryCorps booths and quiet rooms, the collective wisdom of everyday Americans is being preserved with grace and dignity. The project teaches us to be better listeners and helps us appreciate the importance of the stories all around us. Since 2003, over 40,000 everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home, and is archived at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear. Millions listen to the award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. Select stories have also been published in the New York Times bestselling book, Listening Is an Act of Love (Penguin Press). More information can be found at