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5 Ways Social Workers Can Support You

Elissa Bantug

Elissa Bantug

Do you know your social worker?  You should.  We’ve listed 5 ways that social workers can help cancer survivors.   Elisabeth Tamasi, clinical social worker at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, discusses these five tips.

1. Sexuality, Intimacy and Body Image

“Social workers are great resources to help start a dialogue with you and your partner about intimacy and sexuality,” says Tamasi.  It may seem like an insurmountable issue and one that’s difficult to discuss, but social workers can offer great advice and help you find additional resources if problems are physical, multifaceted or need a consultation with a medical provider.

2. Managing Fear or Anxiety

“It’s normal and happens to many patients,” according to Tamasi.  “Anxiety or depression following cancer treatment can be part of the healing process.”  Social workers can discuss these issues with patients and look forward to improving over time.  A social worker can also identify when feelings of sadness and anxiety may be interfering with everyday life and help you decide if further medical intervention could be helpful.

3. Family Issues

Cancer affects many people in a family beyond the patient.  Fears or concerns by children, partners, parents, siblings, or extended family members are often present.  Social workers can work with family members and help address changes in the family dynamic.

4. Social and Professional Life

After all you have gone through with cancer, re-establishing social relationships can be a challenge.  Sometimes friends don’t understand what you’ve been through or have their own concerns and fears.  Tamasi says that social workers can give advice on how to maintain relationships.  When you return to work, they can also help patients who may need employment modifications or want to change career goals.

5. Financial Impact

Employment dilemmas, insurance and reimbursement bureaucracies, financial struggles, interpersonal challenges can all coincide with depression, fear, and anxiety.  Seeking help from a social workers can identify assistance programs, fill out insurance paperwork, and assist with financial planning.

“Social workers can be a lifeline for patients getting back to their everyday life,” says Tamasi.

How do you find an oncology social worker?

Most cancer centers have social workers trained specifically in oncology social work and are there to help offer you and your family support.  Oncology nurses may be a good person to ask how to connect with a social worker.

If you are a Johns Hopkins patient and are looking to find a social worker, call (410)955-8934 or stop by the main office of Patient and Family Services at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, located in Suite 1210 of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building directly off the main lobby.

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