Celebrating Pride: Lucy Fleming Shares Positive Energy in MSK’s Patient Access Service

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Lucy Fleming
Lucy with her family

Lucy with her family

Within moments of speaking with Lucy Fleming, you notice she is always smiling. It’s a bright smile that radiates warmth.

Lucy channels this positive energy as manager of the Patient Access Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Lucy helps new patients who have been diagnosed with breast or gynecologic cancers schedule an appointment with an MSK specialist. In her role, Lucy often talks on the phone with people who are understandably anxious and have several questions. Her caring demeanor — and smile over the phone — helps put them at ease.

“I‘m incredibly lucky to work with a fantastic team in Patient Access,” Lucy says. “Being the first point of contact for patients and caregivers is a privilege we don’t take lightly.”

From Oz to the Big Apple

Lucy in her 10th-grade school uniform

Lucy in her 10th-grade school uniform

Lucy was born and raised in Australia in Avoca Beach, a coastal suburb in Central Coast, New South Wales, famous for its surfing. Her dad, an American and a surfing enthusiast, and mom, a New Zealander, met as teachers in Sydney. They settled in Avoca Beach, where they had Lucy and her younger sister, Virginia.

“It was lovely growing up there because I was exposed to a lot of alternative lifestyles,” Lucy recalls.

At age 18, Lucy moved to Northern New South Wales for university, where she studied at the University of New England. She graduated with a master’s in disability studies.

Lucy visited New York City frequently throughout her undergraduate years, enamored by the city and its diverse LGBTQ+ community. In 2008, she moved to Manhattan and walked for the first time in the annual NYC Pride March.

“We don’t have the same things available in Australia [for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies],” Lucy explains. “Homosexuality was still illegal in some parts of Australia until the late ’90s, so being part of the Pride March and learning about its history made me feel so lucky to live here.”

While Lucy realized in high school that she was bisexual, she didn’t come out to her family until she moved to the U.S.

“The catalyst was moving here and feeling that I could finally live my life,” she says. “In general, I think people in Australia are more likely to give people a harder time about their sexual orientation.”

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Creating Safe Spaces at MSK

Lucy (left) with her sister in Avoca Beach, their hometown

Lucy (left) with her sister in Avoca Beach, their hometown

Lucy joined MSK’s LGBTQ+ Pride employee resource network (ERN) at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She says the ERN helped her connect with colleagues outside of her department and feel less isolated during the city’s monthslong shutdown.

“I was looking for a way to commiserate with people, especially when I found out that the [2020] Pride March wouldn’t take place,” she says. “It’s been a great way to network with people from around the hospital.”

One of Lucy’s proudest moments since joining the ERN has been helping organize Safe Zone Training (SZT) for Patient Access Services. Offered to MSK employees since 2017, the hourlong session includes introductory LGBTQ+ terminology as well as clinical applications and health disparities specific to the LGBTQ+ population, with a focus on oncologic issues.

“The feedback from the team was really great,” Lucy says. “I think the personal stories we include during the training really help people understand the background of Pride and how MSK continues to address the unique concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

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