Oncology Social Workers: Guiding Patients Through Survivorship

As a cancer survivor, you are well aware of the challenges that come with a diagnosis. There’s learning how to navigate the healthcare system, figuring out which doctors you should see, and researching what your insurance coverage includes, to name a few. While these specific challenges might not exist anymore, you know there are still challenges— they just look different. Now, it’s whether you should go back to work. If you do, what information will you be willing to share with your coworkers? Perhaps you’re dealing with body changes, wondering how to adapt to, and accept, the new you. And if that’s not enough, there’s learning how to create a new normal that you’re happy with.  

Cancer survivors grapple with different challenges, many of which can be too much for one person or even one family to manage on their own. Fortunately, oncology social workers are well-equipped to help cancer patients transition to cancer survivors after treatment ends. 

What is an Oncology Social Worker?

Oncology social workers are healthcare professionals trained to counsel you about ways to cope with the emotional and physical issues related to your cancer. This could include providing you with helpful resources, explaining your diagnosis in more detail, figuring out your medical and insurance coverage, and teaching you how to talk to your family, especially children, about cancer. 

Oncology social workers also help you transition from patient to survivor. They do this in many various ways— providing you support as you re-enter the workforce, helping you cope with long-term side effects of cancer treatment, and guiding you through new, and sometimes uncomfortable, feelings and emotions.  

The role of these patient and family advocates is an essential part of providing patients with high-quality cancer care.  

Read more about the social work team at Minnesota Oncology and the social services they can help you with.

What Survivors Should Know About Oncology Social Workers

It’s important to understand that oncology social workers are available to you even after treatment is over. And, in most cases, they are a free service through your cancer treatment center or community-based cancer organizations.

You, the survivor, sets the pace. For instance, you might only need to meet with an oncology social worker once or twice for help on a specific issue, such as sorting out an insurance claim. On the other hand, you might need to meet more frequently in order to discuss challenges you’re facing, like coming to terms with changes to your body or your marriage.

Each survivor's situation is different. While some have a caring support group of family members and friends to depend on, others don’t. Regardless of what your situation is, support is available. All you have to do is ask for it! Oncology social workers are standing by to help you. Even if your support system runs deep, there are times when an outside source can be beneficial, especially if there are certain issues that you’d like to remain private. Why not reach out and take advantage of this amazing resource?

Minnesota Oncology has a team of oncology social workers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area including the surrounding communities: Burnsville, Chaska, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Maplewood, Plymouth, Maplewood, Waconia, and Woodbury that helps cancer survivors with a variety of resources, such as cancer survivor support groups and classes. 





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