2016 Social Work Month Multimedia Contest: “Live Strong” from Sarah DeMaison

Mar 11, 2016

During National Social Work Month in March the National Association of Social Workers asked social workers to use media, including photos, videos, writings and spoken word, to express how they live up to this year’s theme “Forging Solutions Out of Challenges.”

Here is a photo and essay entry from Sarah DeMaison, a member of the NASW North Carolina Chapter:


John Matthew "Matt" Beck

John Matthew “Matt” Beck

I call this picture “Live Strong”. This is my husband John Matthew “Matt” Beck ; survivor of childhood cancer. Optimistic outlook on life. Always positive. Focused. Zest for life. He lived in the moment.

My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer (unrelated to the cancer he had as a child) on July 10, 2015 and passed away just 18 days later. Even at the end of life he stated, “I know this will take my body, but this will never take my soul.”

When we were married on October 10, 2014 I bought him a shirt that said “Real Men Marry Social Workers.”

As a change agent, refusing to settle for what I was being told by a hospital, refusing to settle for a particular hospital who never had a treatment plan in place for my husband; I worked to have him airlifted out of that hospital to another hospital in a different state.

I worked with the surgeon; because no one else would speak up; not even the family of my husband. There was not another social worker to assist with the discharge; just the surgeon and myself to give my husband a chance. I advocate and educate and I educated many people in that particular hospital on how important it is to treat others; to care for others. You never know when someone’s spouse might be a social worker.

This is how I want him to be remembered. In this picture, it reminds me and encourages me to continue to do what I do every.single.day. To continue to speak up for those who are afraid; who are uncertain; who are unsure of themselves. To ask questions; to not just “settle” for an answer in order for me to stop asking so many questions.

To learn about more National Social Work Month activities visit www.socialworkmonth.org.

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