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social work intervention

Posts: 1250
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi, I am 1yr post treatment for breast cancer (Secretory Carcinoma) a rare slow growing ca accounting for less than 1% of all bc.  I was treated with a double mastectomy/anastrozole, and as of today doing well.  Also 2yrs post treatment for stage3b anal ca, (surgery, chemo, rads). 

I am back in college after 35yrs out and in the field of human services.  A discussion came up about the lack of initial (early on) intervention from an oncology social worker when diagnosed with ca. In some areas it seems it is part of the treatment plan, but in many it is not.  A social worker is often available but one would have to be pro-active in seeking this service on their own.  Social work is a broad term but could offer emotional support along with a resource to financial, ins., transportation, housing, etc. concerns for patient and family.

I am wondering if many people here were offered these services early on as part of your treatment plan?  If not do you wish you were, and if so, was it of help?  This is very informal, just a discussion that was of interest to me. I was not initially offered this myself and would have had to seek these services on my own. I was sooooo sick upon being diagnosed that it never entered my mind.


jessiesmom1's picture
Posts: 869
Joined: Jun 2010

I was not offered the services of a social worker by my general surgeon, plastic surgeon or medical oncologist. I think it would have been nice to have such a person available to me. As you said, there are so many issues to deal with after a cancer diagnosis and to have a person who could direct you to the right place for information/help would have been nice. On my own I found support groups, an exercise class for cancer survivors, a place to get a free wig/head scarves. I was lucky that I didn't need transportation but I know that is available also. My oncologist's office is moving next year and they have said that a dietician/nutritionist AND a oncology social worker will then be on staff. A little late for me but I am glad that these professionals will be there for others.


June Bugs
Posts: 169
Joined: May 2013

At my cancer center, I was offered the help of a dietician or nutritionist, a social worker, a physical therapist and given lots of information on the support groups they had there.  I am thankful that the team they had for me was so considerate and helpful to me and still are.  Everyone should be offered this.


camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

the services of a social worker back in 2002 with my initial diagnosis but I was offered a nutritionalist. This time around neither, but I did seek out a counselor this go round for stage IV on my own. She was really nice, however I did feel that I was the counselor and she was the patient.
After my first go round with beast, I went back to school and got a.dual degree, one in Business Management, and one in Human Services! For me it was second on my list of things to do in my lifetime and such an accomplishment! Never did counsel though, that was what I was planning to do when I retired. But none the less, it was a huge accomplishment!
... Kudosnto you.

Posts: 3644
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm in a very different 'world' than most.  My mental health professionals have been there for many years through VA.    My  neoadjuvant chemo, surgery, adjuvant chemo and rads were outsourced to our local Cancer Center.  The first tme I went there the Breast Cancer Navigator came out to see me.  She saw me every so often and still after 3+yrs still calls me occasionally.

Yes I was offered a lot of support options at my Center but I already had what I needed - still have.  BUT I am so 'fortunate' to be a Veteran.  

Winyan - The Power Within


Try looking into/talkingnwith your teachers about PTSD - it is very REAL and is not limited to "combat" experiences.

Posts: 1250
Joined: Oct 2011

Thanks for your responses. My son convinced me to go back to school and it is the best thing I've done in along time. I am taking it slow but am not working right now so may take a full load next semester. I don't know if I'll ever work for pay in this field but am sure learning a great deal and feel this is where I'm supposed to be right now.

When I asked the same question on the anal cancer forum there were many people never offered such services. It seems it is just asumed that if a patient or family is in need we will seek such out on our own.  I had to interview an oncology social worker as part of a project and was told that there is a program in the works nationwide called "Distress screening" where the physicians and other medical team will evaluate patients and refer those to social services that they feel will benefit. Thats great, but should be happening anyway shouldn't it??? More than likely it often is a matter of billing issues.

Just hope all are getting the services they need!

Posts: 6564
Joined: Oct 2010

The only assitance I got was from a social worker at the cancer center (she was great-I pop in to see her when I am in the building) But only when I was very upset since my  job was not being very nice to me when starting daily treatments. She made some calls to my boss. She also had schduling change my daily appt to fit my lunch hours (daily) so not to use all MY SICK days.



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