When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the immediate concerns are his/her physical well-being, getting into a treatment center, and starting cancer treatment.
Cancer survivors need more than just chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.
One of our licensed social workers here at Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA), Roshonda Poole, says there are many ways in which cancer patients or survivors, their families, and/or their caregivers need support throughout the cancer journey.
Roshonda says that many cancer patients struggle with the feeling of isolation and that they often believe they are the only one struggling with the impact of the cancer diagnosis. She also says that, “Talking about it with others brings about some mixed emotions. Often, patients do not want to burden their families with the details of their cancer treatment, so having an outlet and someone to talk with can reduce their anxiety.”
In fact, anxiety is a major issue her team helps patients with; as they try to decrease and alleviate that anxiety through supportive care - which includes advocating, emotional support, providing resources, and much more.
Cancer can be an expensive illness to treat, but there is a lot of financial information available to patients.
At VOA, we have patient benefit representatives, oral authorization specialists, and social workers on staff to help patients with their medical expenses and understanding cancer treatment costs. This supportive team understands the ins and outs of Medicare assistance, insurance co-pays, medication assistance, and other matters that can help reduce the burden and stress related to cancer’s cost.
Insurance and Paperwork
Filling out paperwork, filing claims and working with health insurance companies is exhausting for anyone, but for someone battling cancer, it can seem like an impossible feat.
Our patient benefit representatives are available to every patient to ensure his/her insurance documentation is done correctly and completed quickly. They also ensure a patient is using every benefit available.
The patient benefit representatives also work frequently with non-insured and underinsured patients, helping find resources that will assist in them with their medical costs. Taking that burden off a patient’s shoulders is huge and can help them focus on their recovery and family life.
Many times patients simply are not aware of all the resources available to them and their families, which is something else our social worker Roshonda has noticed. This is why our support services team is constantly looking for ways to connect patients to helpful services such as support groups, nonprofit and community organizations, survivorship groups, nutritionists, financial counselors, disease-specific organizations, and more. When a patient comes into our social worker’s office she does a complete needs assessment and from there is able to access resources which will be beneficial to them.
Perhaps the most overlooked person in the cancer treatment process is the caregiver. It can be a lonely and stressful job, and, understandably, everyone’s concern is for the person with cancer, not the caregiver. In order to do the best job supporting a loved one, a caregiver needs support, also.
Roshonda’s office is open to caregivers, as well as patients, and many of the resources and help she provides are as beneficial for a caregiver as they are for a patient. Common conversations with caregivers include the kind of support they can give their loved ones, the ways in which their loved ones may be putting up defense systems around their cancer, and how the caregivers' lives are being affected by the disease.
Roshonda and her team meet patients, caregivers, and family members at any point along their cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment to remission and beyond.
According to her, VOA’s cancer patients “give me motivation, and courage, and show me how to live out my dreams now, and to love and enjoy every moment of it along the way -- good and bad.”
At the end of each day, her goal is to help her patients achieve quality of life in addition to excellent treatment and recovery.