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Question: How can I benefit from an oncology scial worker during or after my cancer treatment?

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, everyone’s main focus is always the physical health of the person and rightly so, but people should never neglect the emotional issues associated with cancer. Oncology social workers understand these complex issues and are available to help the patient, family and caregivers. They are passionate about helping with psychosocial, social, emotional, financial and spiritual issues. They are present with people and listen to their needs and fears.

In addition, they can also provide or assist with finding individual counseling. Oncology social workers often facilitate support groups and can refer you to a support group tailored to your specific needs. Support groups come in many forms and can be an “activity” group or a “sharing” group. Finding a beneficial support group can help cancer patients and caregivers gain hope, build relationships, feel less isolated and reduce distress and anxiety.

It is important for patients and family members to know that Mission Hope Cancer Centers in Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande have social workers available to them free of charge, to assist with a wide range of challenges which people might be facing due to the cancer diagnosis.

The key to communicating with a social worker is simple. Meet one and ask for help with what you need. If you are not sure what you need yet you can meet a social worker to learn what support services are available. By sharing your situation and experience the social worker can assess what may be helpful before you even think of it! Be open and honest about the things in your life that you will need additional support for. The earlier in the diagnosis you meet them the more likely you are to benefit from the relationship.

Services include one-on-one counseling, information and referral to community resources, connection to a support group, financial and co-pay assistance, assistance with insurance issues, new patient orientation to Mission Hope, referral to Spiritual Care and additional support services, advance Directive Assistance, advocate for your goals and quality of care, resources on care and diagnosis, and survivorship and iTHRIVE Plan.

Having a social worker on your medical team is a great benefit to any cancer patient! We will be having an Orientation on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at noon at both Mission Hope Cancer Center locations. Please come with any questions or to make an appointment with Social Worker, Ashley Hahn, Santa Maria site, please call 805-346-3402 and with Jenni Davis, Arroyo Grande site, please call 805-474-5303.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org

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