Karen Granville Believes in Paying it Forward for Women’s History Month

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Karen Granville

Karen Granville works as a patient advocate to increase their access to MSK for cancer treatment.

An Advocate for Patients with Cancer

As a registered nurse for the past 13 years, Karen Granville, who now serves as a Nurse Case Manager for Patient Financial Services at MSK, empathizes with the struggles faced by our patients with cancer.

“It’s easy to lose hope,” Ms. Granville says, speaking to the challenges faced by patients with insurance issues and limited cancer treatment options, “but I guarantee to do my best so that every patient can be treated at MSK.”

As a team member of the Patient Care Advocacy Program (PCAP), Ms. Granville works with patients whose insurance does not cover care at MSK and looks to increase their access to MSK for treatment, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and much more.

“My first love was always nursing, but it slowly grew into a great passion for public health,” says Karen, who pursued a Master of Public Health at Columbia University before receiving her Bachelor of Science in nursing from New York University.  

“There’s something about actually working with patients and interacting with a lot of medical and clinical professionals,” she says when asked what made her pursue a career in healthcare.

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Faith, Family, and Friends

As the daughter of a Jamaican woman and an African American man, Ms. Granville shares that she had a bicultural experience growing up. She was raised with strong Caribbean influences and spent half of her youth in Jamaica, while she spent the rest of her childhood in Brooklyn. She has memories of enjoying Christmas Day on sandy beaches in Jamaica and says she was thankful to be surrounded by Caribbean culture when she later moved to Brooklyn.

“I live by the three F’s: faith, family, and friends,” says Ms. Granville, who expresses her love for the food, culture, and beautiful weather in Jamaica and the importance of keeping her relationships with friends and family alive. “First faith and then everything will follow,” she says.

Her parents traveled often and instilled a spirit of determination in her when she was young.

Karen and her family. From left to right: Karen’s niece, Karen, her mother, and her sister-in-law

Karen and her family. From left to right: Karen’s niece, Karen, her mother, and her sister-in-law

Ms. Granville is the youngest of two, with an older brother who is an engineer. “We are my parents’ American Dream,” she says. “We worked hard, were obedient, and kept our integrity just like our parents asked of us.”

“It may be cliché, but my mother worked her butt off to give her two kids a better life,” says Ms. Granville. “It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.” Expanding on her foundation of faith, she adds that she was grateful to come from humble beginnings – she believes it has fueled her strong desire to help people.

“My mom always emphasized the importance of education, so after I got my degrees, I knew healthcare is where I would end up,” she says.

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A Positive Outlook for Women

Ms. Granville’s mother, who is a survivor of breast cancer and is now retired, serves as a big inspiration for Karen in everything she does.

When asked to reflect on Women’s History Month and the struggles that many women have faced and continue to face, Ms. Granville says: “The challenges are there for you to stretch and learn. Sometimes the challenges present new opportunities that you would not have looked at otherwise.”

“Even when it looks impossible, there are many women like you and me who are there to be supportive and helpful,” she says. She adds that she has an amazing support system of women at MSK who empower her and others and provide support, from sharing tips on career advancement to checking in on each other’s work-life balance.

Ms. Granville, who is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, says that her experiences with her sisters were instrumental in shaping her career choices. She has also been greatly inspired by the work of other women who have done so much to lift and support the African American community.

To encourage Black women to get into healthcare, Ms. Granville emphasizes the importance of visibility: “Patients have come to me just to say that it is nice to see a Black nurse. Representation matters, so if you have the heart, go for it.”

When asked for final thoughts on Women’s History Month, Ms. Granville says: “It starts with knowing who you are, then Pay It Forward,” referencing the 2000 movie. “Learn how to use your professional and personal networks to help each other and come together to share a wealth of knowledge.”  

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