Oncology Social Workers
Oncology social workers are part of your cancer care team, providing emotional support, coping strategies, resources for financial assistance, and addressing complex family or social concerns that can arise at any stage of your cancer treatment and survivorship.
And it's all tailored specifically for you and your family, and the circumstances of your cancer journey and your life.
Screening to Determine What You Need
At your first consultation with radiation oncology or medical oncology, you'll receive a questionnaire that asks you to identify, on a scale of one to ten, your immediate concerns and needs.
- emotional health
- relational communication
- financial issues
- legal questions
- general or practical assistance areas that you want help with
This information gives our oncology social workers a starting point at your first meeting, and they're able to dive right away into your most pressing priorities.
How the Oncology Social Workers Can Help You
Our oncology social workers are committed to seeing you within 48 hours after you're referred to them, at a time that's convenient for you.
They are available to support you with:
Coping With Cancer Treatment
- Planning and preparing for cancer treatment
- Dealing with feelings like sadness, worry, anger, grief or just being overwhelmed
- Adjusting to fatigue and other side effects of treatment, including concerns about sexual function, fertility and incontinence
- Understanding how the palliative medicine team can help with symptom management and clarifying goals of care
- Referring to acupuncture, nutrition counseling and other care services
- Answering your concerns or questions about life after cancer treatment
Caring For Those Close To You
- Talking to others about your diagnosis and keeping them updated about your health
- Establishing support for adults, children and caregivers
Financial and Resource Assistance
- Navigating your insurance
- Accessing financial assistance programs, including Social Security Disability, co-pay assistance, Medicaid and charity care
- Understanding your workplace rights
- Coordinating transportation
- Organizing respite, home health care or medical equipment
Ensuring Your Wishes Are Met
- Thinking about advance directives, such as a living will, medical durable power of attorney and "five wishes"
- Clarifying goals of care and treatment with palliative care team
Putting Together a Survivorship Plan
For the first time as a nation, people are surviving cancer longer and living better-quality lives after treatment. That is leading to another phase of cancer for millions of people: cancer as a chronic condition.
That makes a survivorship plan all the more important, and our social workers can help develop one with you.
Your survivorship plan includes:
- considering the questions of life after cancer treatment
- helping coordinate, with your nurse navigator, a survivorship care plan that includes complete information about your diagnosis, your treatments, your providers, possible side effects, and what's next for you medically in the next few weeks, few months, and few years
- ensuring that you have your nurse navigator’s contact information so that you can reach out anytime, even years down the road, if you need their assistance
Information Tailored To You
Since each cancer patient is unique, so is the information provided by the oncology social workers.
- If you need general information about support, they'll pull it all together.
- If you need transportation to treatments, they'll get rides set up.
- If you are having trouble paying your rent or purchasing food, they'll seek assistance for that as well.
The services are the same, no matter what kind of cancer you have. A young mother with breast cancer receives the same level of support and assistance as a gentleman with prostate cancer, even though the specifics of their needs may change.
The stage of your cancer may mean a different type of conversation, depending on your emotional and physical needs.
But regardless of your type or stage of cancer, your social worker serves as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for advice, support and direction for you and your family.
The goal is to give you one less thing to worry about.
Services Unique to EvergreenHealth
Each of EvergreenHealth's oncology social workers has a Masters-level education in social work and is licensed by the state of Washington. They also have specialty training in oncology. You won't find these credentials at all cancer centers; some may just use the business office, for example, to help with financial issues, or assign an aide to schedule transportation.
The variety of services offered is broader than you will find in most clinical practices. These services are accessible, and open-ended. You can reach out for help anytime, even after your treatments end.
You don't just receive handouts. You'll meet one-on-one with a social worker, who gets to know you and your family, who can help you fill out paperwork for any assistance you might need, and who can anticipate what challenges you may be facing before they become overwhelming.
For More Information
Your physician, your family, your nurse, essentially anyone you interact with on your cancer journey can refer you to our oncology social workers. You can also reach out to them on your own.
To contact an oncology social worker, call Cancer Support Services at (425) 899-2265 or visit our offices near the Halvorson Cancer Center in Green 1290.
Cancer support services are available to all Halvorson Cancer Center patients and those they define as their family.