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Graduate School of Professional Psychology
COPE oncology psychology DU

Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence

(COPE)

Meet the COPE Founder

Source: DU VideoManager
  • Diane M. Simard

    Diane M. Simard

    Diane's Story

    My life has not been the same since cancer.

    When I received the dreaded phone call on February 11, 2015, I panicked, grieved, then quickly accepted the uninvited challenge. There was much to do and learn, so I became a sponge for information. A few cancer survivors I met with encouraged me to take a sabbatical from work, live on the couch and wallow in self-pity. But I couldn't do that. I was determined to face my battle head-on.

    As I began the five-month chemotherapy regimen, I was asked numerous times by medical professionals how I was faring psychologically. They encouraged me to attend breast cancer support group meetings, but I cringed at the thought of sharing my thoughts and feelings with a group of strangers. When I asked my medical oncologist whether she could refer me to a counselor who has experience working with a female executive cancer patient like me, she said mental health professionals, including licensed psychologists, typically don't specialize in an area like cancer. If I did find someone, they likely wouldn't accept health insurance. I couldn't believe it, but I was too sick to care. Instead, I decided to express my feelings in a journal.

    When I emerged from the 16 brutal chemo treatments, I was relieved and filled with a profound sense of gratitude. I felt an overwhelming need to positively channel my experience and was determined to find out why so little emphasis is placed on the psychological impact of cancer.

    Thankfully, I was introduced to Dr. Shelly Smith-Acuna and Dr. Nicole Taylor with GSPP before the first of my two lumpectomy surgeries. After a series of exploratory meetings, we realized that no psychology training programs exist in the U.S. that focus on psychosocial oncology at the graduate level. We sketched out the concept for what has become the Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence (COPE) at GSPP. I decided to provide the initial funds to establish the COPE specialty, and am so proud of the first cohort of COPE students at GSPP who completed the 12-credit specialty in August 2017.

    After chemo, I had two surgeries and 33 radiation treatments. Now, I am completing a book based on my year with breast cancer and my extraordinarily emotional experience that ultimately led to COPE's launch. A portion of the proceeds will provide operating funds to help expand the COPE specialty. In the meantime, I promise to continue advocating for patients, survivors and caregivers who struggle with the trauma and fear that often results from such a challenging experience.

    The National Cancer Institute has made the staggering projection that one in two men and one in three women will get cancer in their lifetimes. In addition to continuing our quest to find cures for the more than 100 known types of cancer, it is imperative that cancer treatment plans begin to provide individualized, professional psychological support for cancer survivors and their families. We are a mighty many, and there is much more life ahead! 

    Thank you for your interest.

    Diane M. Simard

    Click to learn more about Diane Simard's background

    Diane (Moravec) Simard is one of the inaugural "100 Women in Business to Watch" in the U.S. by bizwomen.com. She is President of 2G Associates, a business strategy accelerator and angel investor in six emerging technologies companies ranging from solar-electric manned and unmanned aircraft to medical devices to cybersecurity. In addition, she serves as Sr. Vice President and is a board member of Bye Aerospace, an engineering R&D company applying clean energy solutions to innovative aircraft designs for the business aviation and defense markets. She is also an advisory board member for QalibreMD.

    Diane's experience includes service on several corporate and advisory boards, including an electronics recycling company, an unmanned aerial systems company in Albuquerque (founding shareholder), a community bank and an IT consulting company.

    Prior to starting 2G, she was Director of Community Relations of IITC, an IT services company. Before joining IITC, Diane was Vice President of Marketing for a financial services company in Dallas, Texas, where she directed a proposal staff that secured almost $100 million in contracts to collect defaulted student loans.

    A passionate advocate for accessibility to higher education, Diane served on the Dean's Board of Advisors for Colorado Women's College at the University of Denver, where she was a guest lecturer and panelist on entrepreneurship. She is a Director Emeritus on the Community College of Aurora Foundation Board (Past Chair) and previously served on the Board and Executive Committee of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, where she was the first female to chair the Chamber's Defense Council. In addition, she was one of 12 advisors to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a Presidential appointment where she represented Region 8 on the Executive Committee for the National Advisory Council.

    In addition to supporting small businesses, Diane has been an avid supporter of the military. She attended the May 2008 Air Force National Security Forum (Air War College) at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. In 2004, she was selected to attend the Dept. of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) in Europe. Highlights of the conference included visits with U.S. military personnel in Azerbaijan and Bosnia, and a visit to the USS Enterprise off the coast of Rota, Spain, where she experienced a tailhook landing and catapult launch off the Enterprise. During this time, she represented the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base in the commanding General's Civilian Advisory Group for Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs.

    Philanthropy is a key part of Diane's community support, and the Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation selected her as their 2017 honoree, establishing the Diane Simard Fund in her honor. She was also selected as the 2016 Outstanding Woman in Technology and Telecom by the Denver Business Journal.

    Previously, she underwrote the Donna Moravec Art Gallery at the Community College of Aurora, a student-run art gallery named after her late mother. She was also the first large contributor to the Colorado Freedom Memorial near Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, honoring Colorado Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. She has endowed a scholarship at the University of Denver and is a member of the Mile High United Way Tocqueville Society.

    Past recognition of Diane's business leadership includes the Bob Cardenas Award for her support of veterans and the military, Aurora Chamber Woman of the Year and Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and was an honor graduate in business from Central Community College in Columbus, Nebr.

    Diane is married to ( GSPP Board of Advisors member) Rene Simard, retired Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant and current Executive VP and Chief of Military Affairs for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Rene received his Master’s degree in Organization and Leadership from University of Denver in June 2013.