Yes, boy did I ever go to a social worker! My fiancé who had cancer did not believe in it, but as a caregiver I found it impossible to cope. I was referred to a day program when my fiancé was going through treatment. I was in a group for 5 hours per day and had one on one with the social worker on a daily basis! My day program was in the same hospital where he had chemo. I would drive him to chemo and drop him off there. (he did not want me with him, he wanted to sleep) and I would go ustairs p for my day progam. After the day program around 2 pm I would drive him down to Sunnybrook daily for radiation. In addition to that, I would stop by the oncology social worker at the hospital on an almost daily basis. I just couldn't cope what-so-ever. She would squeeze me in immediately. She was so kind to me. I was constantly crying and having panic attacks. I was always at one social worker or another that summer balling my eyes out. It was a never ending crying session. I wouldn't have made it otherwise without getting help! I tried to get my fiancé to talk to the oncology social worker. I tried to even sneak her in while he was having chemo so she could chat with him. He wanted no part of it. I wish I could have gotten him to talk to someone. I tried and tried, but it was not in his personality and I couldn't change that.
So glad that you raised this topic.
Yes, I saw a social worker--- one of the best things I did during my cancer journey. I was lucky and got a big binder from the first oncology nurse I met at the hospital and in it was a section on resources available to me. It was here that I learned that there was an onsite social worker available to me and my family, and I immediately requested a referral from my medical oncologist.
It was a few weeks before I saw her, but it was worth it.
She put my mind at ease about everything from how to brave the odd looks I got when wearing my headscarf, to reassuring me that she would be willing to talk on the phone long-distance with my daughters who were living in another city.
My mother was at the tail end of her treatment for Stage 4 esophageal cancer at the same time that I was going through chemo, and at the same hospital as me. I asked her if she was taking advantage of the resources that were there, such as the social worker, and she said 'no'. Mind you, my mother was the type of woman who got through some tough times in her life without reaching out for help from anyone. And she was 89 years old and probably quite accepting of the fact that she had lived a good life. She passed away 3 months after I started chemo.
Brighty - I'm sorry that your fiancee did not get onboard with taking advantage of this great resource that was available to both of you. That, among other things, took such a toll on your ability to support him. Bravo to you for knowing that you needed help. You are an advocate and a model for others who are trying to support others in their fight against cancer.
In Nova Scotia we have a palliative care group who help walk us thru the process. I am very lucky that my husband has willing agreed to attend meetings with me. They help with preparing the paper work for end of life wishes, etc so there is less hassle when the things happen. My husband is also going to complete the paper work as well as he has heart issues. Doing it together will make it easier for both of us. We haven't family close by (one daughter lives in Alberta and the other one lives in North Carolina) so things need to be in order. This will help them as well. I have had one visit so far and left with lots of material to read and digest and a follow up call from my contact (a registered nurse) assigned to me. Here if things are going well you can pop in and out of the care. It just depends on your needs at any that point in time of your journey. If you are critical then they also have a doctor on board who can access you and work with your doctor to get you the help you need. Very well organized group and only a phone call away.
when I was first diagnosed, I saw a counsellor through my work’s EFAP, but didn’t get on with him (he didn’t seem to know about what people go through with a cancer diagnosis), but then I met with the social worker at the Breast Health Centre in Winnipeg, and she was just great. It was challenging to get an appointment, but my time with her was always well spent. I’m now seeing the social worker at my local clinic in Steinbach, who is much easier to contact, and is even happy to chat with by email. She has helped me learn mindfulness, and has lent me books. We have made a good connection and I think this really helps.
I didn’t avail myself of the social workers back when Dad was in treatment, but I nearly did one day - the first day of his chemo. But then, I’m not good with needles.
Raleigh , there’s a lot to be said for being organized about your estate. My parents had all their affairs in order, and when Mom died one morning during what would ordinarily be a routine heart test, it was so much easier for Dad because he knew what to do. None of us expected her to go first, so the shock of that actually coming to pass would otherwise have done a number on all of us. As it was, we just “auto piloted” our way through lawyer’s appointments and funeral consultations. The headstone was even on the plot they had bought already.
When Mom passed, I had to review and update my estate. I hope I’ve done as good a job for my estate trustee!
Did you meet with a Social Worker? - Yes, both my wife and I did early on in my diagnosis and I still do today.
Were you referred or did you ask to speak to one yourself? - I referred myself.
Did it help you cope? - Definitely a yes.
Its not just coping as many of us know. For those that don't, Social Workers are a wealth of knowledge in helping find you resources, complete forms and as well as counseling can help refer you to other needed services as well. I can't say enough about them. They are an invaluable part of coping and getting through the cancer experience as a patient, partner, caregiver, or family member.
No, I didn't meet with a social worker. My husband had retired about 8 months before my diagnosis, and I wasn't working. I was 60 years old. So although I was scared, I realized that we were lucky in a way that I/we had been mostly healthy for many years.