Oncology Social Work
A diagnosis of cancer and subsequent cancer treatment can result in a period of adjustment and an increase in stress for patients and their families. At the Community Cancer Center, patients and their families have access to a comprehensive range of psychosocial support services. An oncology social worker is a part of the oncology team and provides a wide range of services directly to persons with cancer and their families. Our masters-level oncology social worker is clinically licensed by the State of Illinois and certified by the Board of Oncology Social Work and works exclusively with cancer patients and families and focuses on ways to improve the quality of life of patients with cancer. Our social worker can guide you to resources and can be of service to you and your family at any time throughout your experience with cancer.
Our oncology social work services include assistance with any of the following:
You have the right to make decisions about the health care you receive now and in the future. Documents known as “advance directives” are written statements declaring how you want medical decisions made if you can no longer make them for yourself.
Federal law requires that you be told of your right to make an advance directive when you are admitted to a healthcare facility. Illinois law allows for the following three types of advance directives: (1) health care power of attorney; (2) living will; and (3) mental health treatment preference declaration. In addition, you can ask your physician to work with you to prepare a DNR order. You may choose to discuss with your healthcare professional and/or attorney these different types of advance directives as well as a DNR order.
- Living Will
Tells your healthcare professional whether you want death-delaying procedures used if you have a terminal condition and are unable to state your wishes.
- The Health Care Power of Attorney
Lets you choose someone to make healthcare decisions for you in the future, if you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself.
- A mental health treatment preference declaration
Lets you say if you want to receive electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) or psychotropic medicine when you have a mental illness and are unable to make these decisions for yourself. It also allows you to say whether you wish to be admitted to a mental health facility for up to 17 days of treatment.
- A do-not-resuscitate order (DNR)
Is a medical treatment order that says cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will not be used if your heart and/or breathing stops.
You should talk with your family, your healthcare professional, your attorney, and any agent or attorney-in-fact that you appoint about your decision to make one or more advance directives or a DNR order. If they know what health care you want, they will find it easier to follow your wishes. If you cancel or change an advance directive or a DNR order in the future, remember to tell these same people about the change or cancellation.
If you would like to receive an Advance Directive packet of information and forms, contact the Community Cancer Center social worker at (309) 451-2217.
Helpful websites providing more information about Advance Directives:
As defined by the Cancer Support Community, a caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or logistical support to a loved one with a chronic, disabling or life-threatening illness. Many people in this situation do not immediately identify with the term “caregiver.” You may not believe that it fits you, especially if you feel that you’re “just doing what I’m supposed to do.” You may even believe that drawing attention to your own needs will somehow detract from the efforts to help your loved one. Being a caregiver is, however, an important role to recognize. It allows you to be an active participant and essential team member in the fight against your friend or loved one’s cancer.
To learn more ways to help you cope with the challenges of your caregiver role please contact the Community Cancer Center social worker at 309.451.8500 who can guide you to resources that can help you and your loved one.The Community Cancer Center Library
The Library is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers many services to both patients and caregivers. The library amenities include:
- Seating areas to read or rest while waiting for appointments and treatment.
- A small reference library of publications on cancer topics, coping and grief.
- A public computer station and printer.
- Information on cancer support groups, classes and monthly calendar of event for patients and caregivers.
- Free educational materials on the following topics:
- Cancer diagnosis
- Cancer treatment options
- Cancer-related symptom management
- Coping techniques
- Caregiving tips and suggestions
Additional Organizations and Programs
American Cancer Society
Caregiver Action Network
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service
Well Spouse Association
End of Life Care
Discuss your specific situation with one of our oncology social workers. Contact them at (309) 451-2217.
Learn more about end of life care at the National Cancer Institute’s website.
Financial Assistance Resources
Cancer can have a devastating impact on a person’s financial well-being. A multitude of service agencies as well as federal, state and county programs exist. Social workers are knowledgeable about these resources and will assist you in identifying those that may meet your specific needs. The social worker acts as a link between the healthcare team and community resources.
The social worker can help you with the following issues or concerns:
- Social Security Disability and SSI
- Insurance Issues & Options
- Mammography Financial Assistance
- Paying for Medications
For more information about financial assistance, contact the Community Cancer Center social worker at (309) 451-2217.
Helpful website providing more information about Financial Assistance Programs:
Home Care Resources
The social worker can provide information about the availability of home care services and a list of local home care agencies.
The term “hospice” originated in medieval times when it was used to describe a place of shelter and rest for weary or sick travelers on long journeys. Today hospice programs provide care for the patient whose illness is no longer responding to aggressive curative therapies. Hospice addresses all the symptoms of the disease with special emphasis on controlling the patient’s pain and discomfort. Hospice also deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of disease on the patient, the patient’s family, and significant others.
A hospice team consists of physicians, nurses, aides, social workers, spiritual care givers, counselors, therapists and volunteers – all of whom are specially trained to provide pain and symptom management for the patient and support for the family. The goal of all hospice programs is to improve the quality of the patient’s last days and weeks of life by offering comfort and dignity. Because each patient’s/family’s needs are unique, a hospice team works with the patient and family to develop a personalized care plan. Hospice brings this caring team right to the patient’s home, be it a house, apartment, nursing home or assisted living setting. Always, the focus is on controlling pain, managing symptoms, providing comfort, dignity and quality of life.
To learn more about Hospice or find a Hospice program in your area, ask your physician or contact the social worker at (309) 451-2217.
Helpful websites providing more information about Hospice Programs:
Mammography Financial Assistance
Financial assistance is available to help women obtain mammograms that cannot financially afford one. This assistance is available through two different grant programs in McLean County.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Memorial Affiliate helps pay for breast diagnostic procedures for women who have no insurance, are underinsured or could not meet a high deductible without causing financial hardship. The grant does not limit participation due to age or income guidelines. For more information, please contact the Community Cancer Center at 309-451-8500.
The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
(IBCCP) offers free mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests to eligible women. Funded cooperatively by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health, the program was created to provide breast and cervical cancer screening and referrals to uninsured women.
The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program can help women 35-64. Women under 35 who are experiencing breast or cervical symptoms may also be eligible.
To enroll in the program, women should first call IDPH’s Women’s Health-Line at 1-888- 522-1282 or 1-877-811-0193. For residents of McLean County, you can also contact the Community Healthcare Clinic located in Normal, IL at 309-888-5531.
For more information about IBCCP, you can visit their website, click here.
Medication Financial Assistance
Financial Assistance to cover the cost of medications may be available for patients who have no insurance coverage or cannot meet a high insurance deductible due to financial hardship.
For further information about available assistance, please contact the Community Cancer Center social worker at (309) 451-8500.
Transportation to the Community Cancer Center
The Community Cancer Center, in collaboration with Scott Health Resources, provides transportation for those with cancer — who reside in Bloomington/Normal — and need assistance with trips to medical visits and treatment.
To arrange for a ride, please call Scott Health Resources at (309) 823-4224.
To check if there may be transportation services available to cancer patients who reside outside of Bloomington/Normal, please call the Community Cancer Center social worker at (309) 451-2217.
Other Patient Transportation Resources
Road to Recovery is an American Cancer Society service program that provides transportation for cancer patients to their treatments and home again. Transportation is provided according to the needs and available resources in the community. For more information about Road to Recovery, contact our local American Cancer Society at 1-800-322-4577. To find your local American Cancer Society office, visit www.cancer.org and do a city or zip code search.
How do I learn more about these services?
Call us at (309) 451-2217 and simply request to meet with our oncology social worker to discuss a topic that concerns you or your family.