No One Should Have To Face Cancer Alone
Whether someone has a huge family ready to lend an army’s worth of support, or they’re all by themselves, there’s a social worker waiting in the wings, ready to lend a hand.
The world of healthcare is vast and complex, and even mention of the word “cancer” can be frightening. Think of it this way: If you were going on a hiking trip in an unfamiliar place, far from civilization, wouldn’t you feel better with a partner or friend to offer support along the way? That’s what social workers at Owensboro Health’s Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center do, and we can help guide patients to resources they never knew existed.
It all starts with communication. One of the most important parts of my work as a social worker is to just take the time to listen to patients. People facing cancer are under a tremendous amount of not only physical strain, but emotional strain, too. Having someone to talk to can be an enormous help as they face the fight of their life.
Listening to and talking to our patients not only lets us help address their emotional health and needs, but we also learn about our patients. We learn about their home life, their previous experiences, and their individual needs, wants and fears. We want to know the patient better because once we have that information, we can get to work on helping them.
Cancer is a complex disease, and modern medicine has adopted a team approach that involves providers and experts from many different fields. On a single case, primary care providers, general and plastic/reconstructive surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, physical therapists, dietitians and more can be involved in patient care.
Stepping into this world, especially right after being diagnosed with cancer, can be intimidating. That’s why we don’t want patients to go it alone, and that’s why we see ourselves as being a lot like partners to our patients. We’re there to offer support when it comes to facing this challenge, whether the immediate priorities are practical, psychological, emotional, social or financial.
Connecting The Dots
We aren’t just there to offer compassionate support. We’re also there to offer expertise. Social workers are educated about the way the system works and what its parts are. That means we can help put patients in touch with resources and assistance, which they otherwise might not have found.
We direct patients to medical resources, such as help getting a diagnosis for various problems and needs. We can also help with practical assistance, like arranging for home health services, durable medical equipment or nutrition counseling and guidance. We also work to connect with larger assistance agencies, including the American Cancer Society and Owensboro Health Foundation.
The foundation, for example, offers a variety of programs that help cancer patients, including financial assistance to cost of cancer treatments or related medications and transportation. The foundation also funds other means of assistance, such as the LifeSpring cancer support group, which can help patients connect with others who know firsthand what it’s like to go through this.
Facing It Together
If you or a loved one is facing cancer, we’re ready to help. In addition to meeting with all patients being treated for cancer at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, we can offer services not just to the patients but also to their families and loved ones. A diagnosis of cancer affects more than just a single person. We want to make sure everyone affected, patient and beyond, gets the help they need.
If you have questions about the services provided by the social workers at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, please call the center at 270-688-3600. We’re ready and glad to help when someone is in need.
Colleen Bachmeier, LSW/CCM, and Amanda Kyle, MSSW/LSW, are social workers at Owensboro Health’s Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center. For more information about the center, call 270-688-3600.