When I was in college, wondering what I should do, I majored in Special Education, thinking it would be great to work with special needs children. It was very satisfying, but after four years of teaching, I started looking at what might be even more satisfying. It was then that I discovered Social Work. I applied and was accepted in a Master’s in Social Work program. I was ecstatic.
Although only a mediocre student before, I excelled in Social Work. I got straight A’s and was my student body president. Wow. The only reason I say that is because when you find what gives you passion, that’s the way to go. Becoming a social work therapist was the best thing I did. In fact, to this day, I say, “I’m at my happiest when I can be there to help others.” It’s also been an excellent foundation for teaching, coaching and consulting that I do now.
So, what is a social worker? What do they do? How can they help you?
Social workers have many tools in their tool kits. They can work in government jobs and help with children’s needs, welfare needs, helping people find the resources they need in any set of circumstances. They sometimes become political and represent the needs of people to their state and national Congresses.
They can also work in hospitals, being advocates for both patients and caretakers and also to help give them referrals when needed. They can help them make sense of all of the treatment options, sometimes in a language easier to understand than their doctors.
But, most importantly, social workers, if they are clinically trained, are wonderful therapists/ counselors. They are great listeners, allow you to speak your deepest concerns and fears.
Why would you want to talk with a social worker?
It’s really nice to have someone listen who is not “biased” … who doesn’t have an agenda for your actions. When we speak and share with our family members, sometimes their agenda doesn’t match ours. We want someone who will listen without jumping in or trying to direct us to a decision that is his or her desire and not ours. Social workers are those unbiased listeners.
When experiencing Cancer, it is so helpful to have that person. It might be someone who you start to see regularly, as in weekly, for therapy. Or, it might be someone you access when confined, as in a hospital, that’s there as needed. Either way, it’s a really wonderful resource.
How do you find a social worker?
In a hospital, there is usually a social work department. Access them through your nurse. Say you would like to see them.
If you’re at home, and feel like you’d like to have regular sessions, begin by asking your friends and family members if they’ve been in therapy and if they can recommend someone. Set up calls and/or in person visits to meet them and see if you are comfortable. It’s important to find someone you resonate with.
Perhaps your oncologist has a Support Group for you or for your loved ones. These can be really helpful as well … to be in a small group with others experiencing Cancer and they are usually led by someone who is a trained therapist.
Lastly, what if you are a little reluctant to ask for this sort of help or are embarrassed?
My best advice would be: Do it Anyhow! There is no shame in asking for and accepting help in a challenging situation.
Case in point:
After my breast cancer diagnosis and early treatment, I was feeling scared and depressed. My experience was that I am a woman of a certain age, divorced, and going through Cancer on my own. My son lives far away, and while I have friends, I didn’t want to burden them too much.
I asked my friends and got a couple of recommendations. I met two and selected one of them. She was quite helpful in letting me ask questions, cry, and express my fears. And, when I needed information about other services, she was a resource for me.
I certainly hope this is helpful to you and I’m open to respond with questions. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org And, if you’re dealing with a mindset around Cancer, please go here for a FREE download: www.cancer-360.com
Ann Fry, MSW, has a view of cancer from all sides — as an educator, a psychotherapist, an organizational leadership coach/ consultant, a former Hospice director, a caretaker, the sister of two brothers who died of cancer, an aunt, a cousin, the Mother of a son who is a cancer survivor, and also a person who had breast cancer herself and is … THRIVING.