For Noam Zaradez, courage means many things.
He has his master’s degree in Philosophy and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Qualitative Research. When he speaks about courage, his thoughts are refreshingly complex yet still somehow light. In 2007, Noam joined Novocure as a Device Support Specialist (DSS), a role that provides technical support and a face-to-face relationship with glioblastoma patients who receive Novocure’s cancer treatment. Noam said interacting with patients who face a life-threatening disease can evoke emotions of sadness, fear and grief in DSSs.
“For me, courage as a DSS is to be able to handle tough and complex situations regarding our patients, and also within our team, to be able to communicate those experiences – to be able to talk freely about our feelings, fears and stress,” he said. “As a team, we need to share those experiences.”
Noam realized the importance of processing and sharing challenging emotions when his team grew and he became a manager. In 2016, he was promoted to a DSS Regional Manager and Care Coordinator. Prior to becoming a manager, he dealt with difficult emotions and stress on his own, mostly by finding comfort in being with his family at the end of the day and learning to appreciate every day.
“Then I realized that it’s not only me anymore,” he said. “I also have responsibility to the others, to my team.”
In 2018, he initiated a mental health program for DSSs in Israel – a monthly, two-hour group therapy session. During the sessions, he said, his team starts to open up and share before even sitting down. They move the table and face each other, seated in a circle so there are no barriers between.
We have to have courage to do things that have never been done before.
Bringing the idea to management took courage on Noam’s part. The program is the first of its kind at Novocure. Noam also suggested to leadership for the group’s therapist to conduct workshops at a DSS conference in Rome last year. The workshops were well-received, and a DSS manager in Germany initiated a therapy program for her team as well after attending.
“We have to have courage to do things that have never been done before,” Noam said.
Participating in group therapy together has helped to unify his team, creating a sense of team spirit. They are more willing to volunteer and help each other when a team member needs it. As a manager of a team, Noam aims to create an open, sincere and free working relationship with his colleagues.
“It’s really empowering us,” Noam said. “In this way, we can work on our strength as employees, on our resilience, to be able to keep the dynamic relationships with our patients. I am so proud of my team.”
Noam also uses physical activity as a way to alleviate stress and process his emotions. He enjoys long-distance running, cycling, swimming, surfing and dancing.
“Running long distances is like taking out all of the things that stay inside your soul and dealing with it,” he said. “For me, it’s like meditation.”
Noam also views courage as being flexible and having the ability to work through the unknown. In group therapy, he and his team learn about accepting oneself and emotions as they come and noticing when they are reacting to those emotions. They learn how to watch their emotions and let them pass.
Noam said it is important that DSSs take care of their mental health because of the ongoing interactions they have with patients and caregivers. DSSs have to be compassionate, positive and sensitive when they work with patients, who are confronting a devastating diagnosis.
“There is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders,” he said. “It is our responsibility to go with them through this path and to give them a hand and to guide them during this process.”