Monthly Archives: March 2015

Love your social workers

This is a guest blog post by our friends at Cancer Support Community in honor of National Social Work month.  

There is so much more that goes into treating cancer than just chemotherapy or radiation, and the number of professionals who provide help is enormous. There’s a radiologist to decode your scans and x-rays, an oncologist to talk specifics about cancer, a nurse to take care of your vitals and medication, and on and on. This month, in honor of National Social Work Month, CSC recognizes one other very important member of the team—the oncology social worker. They’re the ones who take care of YOU.

Oncology social workers, like all social workers, seek to improve the quality of life for the people they work with, and this doesn’t just mean the patients. This means the individuals, families, loved ones, groups and communities who are impacted by a cancer diagnosis. As a show of appreciation for the endless support and care they provide, CSC has been honoring one oncology social worker every day as a part of our #31DaysOfSW campaign on Twitter. We also got the chance to ask CSC oncology social workers all about their day-to-day, and what they liked best about their career. We could tell you what tell you what they said—or we could let them tell you in their own words.

How did you get started in social work?

I started my career in what is now the “Murder Capital” of the US, Camden, NJ. When I started, the other young social workers were pretty much in the same boat; idealistic, cocky; to use a cliché, it felt like we could make a difference. Sometimes on Protective Services calls we went with the police. Back then a Policeman told me how sometimes he didn’t know how we did our jobs. I said I felt the same way about him. He responded by saying, “…you go into madhouses carrying a notebook, I go in carrying a gun.” I dove into Social Work and have never looked back. Times have changed, systems are far more complicated, but the need to be mindful of each of our dignity remains the same.

—Jim McManus, LCSW BCD DCSW OSW-R

How do you help patients cope with all the stress and emotional turmoil of the cancer experience?

First and foremost, I try to just listen to what they have to say with empathy, compassion and no judgment. I let them know they are not alone and whatever they are feeling at the moment is exactly what they should be feeling. Furthermore, I always mention it takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength to ask for help and show vulnerability. It is these traits that will help them become more active and involved in their treatment and result in more positive outcomes.

—Justin Short, MPH, MSW, LCSW

Have you ever had a specific experience where you felt, “This is why I do this?”

Just ONE? I get many at each and every shift. I should keep count at each shift how many people THANK ME for simply returning their call, or listening to them rather than passing them on to another resource if we can’t help them with their particular issue. Some days callers just need a place to put their pain. We are that place.

—Charli Prather, MSW, LCSW , Helpline Counselor

What is the #1 thing you have learned from being an Oncology Social Worker?

Over time I realized that the only way for me to make sense of both these experiences and in a small way honor all of those “teachers” who didn’t have the luxury of living long and happy lives was to be present as possible in my own life. For me this means that my awareness is focused on what’s happening right here and right now. I try not to worry about the future, obsess about the past, or hope for things that are beyond my control. In practicing this way of living, I believe it helps me to be a better mother, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker and yes, Oncology Social Worker.

–Sara Goldberger, LCSW-R

How have social workers changed your cancer journey? 

For more resources, information about CSC’s programs and services and to speak to a licensed-mental health professional, please call the Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355. The Helpline is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9.p.m. ET.

Oncology Social Work (1)

4 ways MyLifeLine.org can help during your cancer experience

When someone is diagnosed with cancer it’s easy for them to become overwhelmed with the influx of new information. Not only are they suddenly bombarded with doctor appointments, gathering resources, learning about their diagnosis and making treatment decisions, but there’s the family members and friends who want regular updates on progress and want to know how to help.

Returning every phone call, email and request for information can be exhausting. MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation is an important resource that can help relieve the burden of communication that cancer patients and caregivers often feel.

Here are a few ways MyLifeLine.org can help:MyLifeLine Features

  1. Build a Community of Support. Patients and caregivers can easily organize and coordinate the help they need using the Helping Calendar. Set up rides to treatment, a babysitter for the kids or a friend to bring meals, all through your MyLifeLine.org personal site.
  2. Communicate with Friends and Family. Patients can share updates on progress and treatment, or use the tool to journal about their experience, all in one central location. Patients often use MyLifeLine.org as an outlet and personal blog during their experience, and friends and family can leave comments of encouragement and support on each update.
  3. Collect Resources on Your Specific Cancer. The Learning Links tool enables patients to collect resources and share information about their specific cancer type with friends and family, so they can easily get a betterunderstanding of their diagnosis.
  4. Create a Personal Fundraiser. Friends and family can easily donate directly to the patient to help with treatment costs and other medical needs using PayPal through the Giving Angels tool on your MyLifeLine.org personal site.

Every day, MyLifeLine.org provides free, personal and private websites to cancer patients and caregivers to help them easily connect with family and friends, because every cancer patient should feel supported. A patient – or a friend or family member, can create a site and invite guests to visit and offer support. Click here to set up a MyLifeLine.org personal site and start building your online support community.

MyLifeLine.org Ribbon

It’s Good To Be Blue

This is a guest blog post by the Colon Cancer Alliance in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

National Colon Cancer Awareness Month is the time of year when the country unites and takes to the streets to raise awareness by dressing in blue, celebrating survivors, honoring those passed and encouraging others to get screened for colon cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S.

Being proactive with health is one way to stay on the offensive with this disease. However, getting screened for colon cancer is something that many avoid doing or even talking about.

Colon-Cancer-Alliance

Colon Cancer Alliance Month reminds us to get checked! Colon cancer is preventable and treatable if caught early.

While American Cancer Society screening guidelines call for men and women at average risk for the disease to begin colon screening at age 50, 23 million Americans in that age group are not getting screened as recommended, increasing their risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer at a late stage when it is much harder to treat. Truth be told, people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are getting diagnosed at increasing rates making it increasingly important to get checked if you have a family history of colon cancer or are having signs and symptoms.

Before colon cancer develops, a polyp—or non-cancerous growth—usually appears on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. The identification and removal of these polyps, through routine screenings, can effectively prevent colon cancer from ever forming. Because most polyps and early-stage cancers cause no symptoms, adherence to routine screenings is critical to cancer detection.

Colonoscopy is the most comprehensive procedure to detect and remove cancerous and precancerous lesions. However, despite its critical importance, some are unwilling to undergo colonoscopy because the procedure is invasive and requires bowel preparation, including a clear liquid diet and laxatives.

Recently, another option approved by the FDA called Cologuard gives those who are unwilling or unable to undergo colonoscopy an accurate, noninvasive screening test they can take in the privacy of their own home. What makes Cologuard different from other noninvasive colon cancer screening tests is that it is designed to analyze and detect both altered DNA and blood biomarkers in the stool known to be associated with cancer and precancers. Cologuard is approved for use by men and women, 50 years of age and older, who are at average risk for colon cancer.

Colon cancer is preventable and treatable if caught early. Here at the Colon Cancer Alliance, we are passionate about creating a world free of colon cancer where education, early detection and treatment lead to survivorship for all. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which screening option you choose—after all, the best test is one that gets done—so don’t put it off any longer, now is the time to call your physician and get screened.

MyLifeLine.org Ribbon

MyLifeLine.org Wins Award for Customer Service

Stevie AwardsMyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation was presented with a Stevie® Award in the Customer Service Department of the Year – Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Related Industries category in the ninth annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top sales awards, business development awards, contact center awards, and customer service awards. The Stevie Awards organizes several of the world’s leading business awards shows including the prestigious American Business AwardsSM and International Business AwardsSM.

The awards were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Friday, February 27 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. More than 500 executives from the U.S.A. and several other nations attended.

More than 1,900 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition.

MyLifeLine.org believes that providing the highest possible level of technical customer care and support to people who use our website is a critical part of the services we provide to cancer patients, caregivers and their family and friends. This is why, despite having a full time staff of only 5 people for the entire organization, we provide customer service 7 days a week.

In the past year, MyLifeLine.org has improved service to our over 130,000 registered users through hiring and innovation. We hired a Customer Care Manager, Donna, in fall of 2013 and she provides high touch care, answering the phone and patiently walking people through questions, going above and beyond to help people.

Customers gave feedback such as, “Your help was very prompt & effective. I appreciate it greatly.” Today our satisfaction rating hovers in the high 97-100% level, on par with the benchmark for nonprofit industries. We believe a focus on superior customer service will result in increased word of mouth referrals and users, which will help us reach and serve more people affected by cancer. One customer shared,

“[Your service] was wonderful. Her sensitivity to a family’s grief and her immediate attention to resolve the issue I was having with the photo upload showed a genuineness that is so needed these days. I will always associate her kindness with MyLifeLine.org and it will be one of the first things I tell people who are in a circumstance where they need the MyLifeLine service and encourage them to use this wonderful tool. Thank you SO MUCH!”

Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards said, “This year’s Stevie Award winners are the highest rated in the history of the awards, and we congratulate all of the winners on their commitment to excellence and innovation.”

Customer support is one of the top priority items for MyLifeLine.org. Adrienne Schafer, Director of Program Innovation said, “The purpose of our organization is to provide support to cancer patients, their caregivers and their friends and family during a cancer diagnosis. That’s why we have such a focus on providing superior customer care, even if it sometimes means working on weekends or waking up early to be sure someone doesn’t have to wait too long for a response.”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and the list of Stevie winners in all categories are available at www.StevieAwards.com/sales.