When UC Santa Barbara graduate Scott Norris gave psychology professor David Sherman a firsthand account of living with brain cancer, Sherman invited the alumnus to guest lecture in his Health Psychology class last spring. Sherman also suggested they make a video of the lecture so he could share Norris's words with future classes.
That video, "Scott Norris: Coping With Illness," was shown last month to students in Sherman's current Health Psychology course, and will air nationally on UCTV over six consecutive days beginning on November 17.
"The course covers topics such as how people cope with a serious illness and the resources they draw on, both internal and external," said Sherman, an assistant professor of psychology at UCSB. "Scott's story is an inspiring personal narrative of how he has coped with his illness and, as one student in my class put it, a great example of ‘the biopsychosocial model in action.'"
Norris, who graduated from UCSB in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer in 1999. Over the four-month period following his diagnosis, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor and then several weeks of radiation treatment. In August of this year, he celebrated nine years without a recurrence.
"It meant a lot to me on a personal level to return to UCSB and share my story," said Norris. "But there was more to it than that. When I shared a draft of my talk with one of my doctors, she said I would be speaking for many who are not able to speak for themselves. So not only was it meaningful for me on a personal level, I hope to have also given voice to –– and advocated for –– others affected by brain tumor disease."
According to Sherman, the goal of the video was to allow students to see how the theories, studies, and experiments they discuss in the classroom manifest themselves in real life. "Norris describes his experience at all levels –– physical, psychological, and emotional," Sherman said. "And it is particularly meaningful because the students are hearing from someone who had once been a student in that same classroom."
In addition to screening on all UCTV channels across the country, the 29-minute video, which was produced through a UCSB instructional improvement grant, has been posted on the Web site YouTube. In the Santa Barbara area, UCTV airs every weeknight on channel 21.
Based at UC San Diego, UCTV is a 24-hour satellite television channel that presents educational and enrichment programming from the 10 campuses within the UC system as well as its national laboratories and affiliated institutions. Programming includes documentaries, lectures, debates, interviews, and performances.