3 ways an oncology social worker can improve your cancer care

March 24, 2022

Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can put stress on every aspect of your being — physical, psychological, professional, financial, and family. Thankfully, oncology social workers are there to help. 

Oncology social workers are licensed professionals who counsel people with cancer, both offering emotional support and helping people access practical resources. They can be instrumental in helping you navigate many of the challenges you may face because of treatment by connecting you to important sources of information, assistance, and support. Here are three ways an oncology social worker can help: 

1. Connect you to financial assistance resources 

Costly medical bills can multiply for breast cancer treatment and your insurance may not cover all your expenses. Your oncology social worker may be able to help you with financial concerns. Some of the possible financial assistance resources they may help you find are: 

  • Sources of assistance for medical copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, pharmaceutical costs, and more 

  • Access to affordable medical care and medications 

  • Assistance with transportation to treatment, whether you live nearby or if you and your family must travel 

  • Organizations and programs to help support the cost of fertility preservation 

2. Find ways to help you manage your day-to-day needs

During your breast cancer treatment, you may experience many out-of-pocket costs unrelated to your medical care. Fatigue and other side effects from treatment may limit your ability to work and reduce your income. If out-of-pocket or daily living expenses become difficult to pay while you are undergoing treatment, your oncology social worker may be able to help you locate resources for needs such as:  

  • Free or low-cost meals with home delivery 

  • Help with legal questions, free legal aid programs, and other legal services 

  • Emergency grants or assistance programs for help with monthly utility bills and basic living expenses, such as the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund 

  • Free wig programs for people undergoing chemotherapy 

3. Help you cope 

Oncology social workers are specifically trained to understand the unique concerns that a person impacted by breast cancer may face. They can provide support for your and your family’s emotional and psychological wellness and may offer or help you access: 

  • Individual counseling 

  • Referrals to counseling in your community 

  • Support groups in your area for you, your family, and caregivers  

Oncology social workers operate in diverse capacities and have access to distinct resources. Some may be able to help answer your insurance coverage and Social Security benefit questions. Others may be able to help you with childcare resources. Community resources may limit your social worker’s ability to find solutions for your concerns. No matter the issue, its size or complexity, an oncology social worker will work with you to identify real solutions. Make an appointment with an oncology social worker at your hospital or treatment center or contact an organization like the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) today.

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