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Wish Blog

Q&A with Referral Source Anna Nannicelli

Anna N 480
Anna is a social worker at Lurie Children's Hospital and refers many of her patients to Make-A-Wish.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background?

A. I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from Northwestern University in 2007 with a Major in Social Policy and a Minor in Global Health. During my time as a Northwestern student, some highlights include studying abroad near Cape Town, South Africa, spending a summer doing public health community outreach work in San Francisco, California, and serving as Captain of the Northwestern Women’s Club Basketball team.

Following graduation, I worked for seven years in Research Project management at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During this time, I completed Masters’ programs in Public Health and Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago before obtaining my social work licensure. I served as the 2014-2015 UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work President of Student Government and had the honor of giving the student address at the 2015 Social Work Commencement ceremony. During graduate school, my clinical field work included the opportunity to practice across various settings including a federally qualified health center, independent community hospital, and finally at Lurie Children’s Hospital which preceded my transition to a full-time employee. 

Q. What made you choose to become a social worker in the pediatric oncology field? Can you share what you feel the most rewarding thing you receive from your job is?

A. My role as the Oncology Liquid Tumor (hematologic malignancy) social worker has provided an amazing opportunity to develop long-term relationships with families and to provide support throughout the course of a patient’s treatment, which may vary from several months to several years. I’m constantly amazed by families’ willingness to allow me to be present during such a difficult time in their lives. It is a special experience to provide emotional support to a patient and family following a new diagnosis and then later to be able to witness the joy of that child receiving a wish opportunity or getting to celebrate their completion of treatment. I value these relationships deeply, as well as those with my medical and psychosocial teams and the way that we work together to support a family throughout their journey.

Q. Why do you think that a wish is so important for a child to have? What types of things do you say to parents and children who have just received a diagnosis, to help them know that a wish is a good thing?

A. In my experience, a wish serves as a symbol of hope for patients and families to look forward to during a very difficult time. I have the joy of being able to have many conversations with families, discussing a child’s interests and coming up with potential wish ideas. These are moments where patients and families can look beyond the hospital walls and have something extraordinary to plan and look forward to during their treatment journey. Ultimately, it’s exciting to bear witness to how Make-A-Wish collaborates with the child and family to transform their interests into a unique and tailored once-in-a-lifetime wish experience. It was an honor to be able to share and learn more about the power of a wish during the recent 2017 Make-A-Wish Illinois Women’s Network event.

Q. What types of things do you enjoy to do in your free time?

A. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors and staying active, whether that be playing basketball, tennis, going to the boxing gym or practicing yoga. You can often find me at the local farmer’s market or at the dog park with my family and two greyhounds, Luigi and Alma.

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