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This week's blog post will introduce you to Patrice F. Al-Shatti, L.M.S.W., an oncology social worker at Mayo Clinic.
Patrice works with individuals going through radiation oncology treatment. She visits with them and their family members, working together to identify goals and strategies for support and resources.
She helps discover sources of financial support, tap into benefits, and identify changes in lifestyle that might reduce stress and accommodate current circumstances. She serves as an advocate for the individual's needs, focusing the attention on the specific concern.
When counseling is the identified need, she might share communication strategies to keep a marriage healthy under the intense pressures of illness or offer ways for parents to talk to children so that they're informed, included, yet guided toward normalcy.
She also can help address other important quality of life issues, such as depression, sleep, fatigue and other treatment-related effects.
A diagnosis of cancer can make you feel as if your entire life has been turned upside down. As you and your family struggle to deal with all of the aspects of this major change in your life, get in touch with an oncology social worker.
A surprising fact is that in most cases the services are free of charge. In healthcare settings, social workers are members of the multidisciplinary team. Ask your physician if a social worker is available to you.
If your treatment center does not offer the service, check to see if your community has a Gilda's Club, a Wellness Community — known as the Cancer Support Community in some areas — or call your American Cancer Society (800-227-2345) for resources and support.
You can also explore the website of the Association of Oncology Social Workers to find a provider and learn more about this role. The cancer journey is a challenging road and it's our great desire to walk it with you. Please share any thoughts or experiences with Patrice through this blog discussion.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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I just finished chemo & rad. for tongue and oral cancer, also in lymph node in neck. having issues with herniated disks in cervical area, my teeth move around like checkers on a board making already cut up tongue even more tender. they remove 1/3 of my tongue. any way had side affects from chemo,surgery radiation, radiation made already hurting herniated disks, now not even 2 months done with physica; treatments, and the doctor is going to take p[ain meds away! cold turkey help I don't know what to do
MY boyfriend had renal cancer and they took out his kidney He still has a mass just outside the pancreas and is undergoing pinpoint radiation.Can you tell me about it and the side effects?
Especially for Diane..I have never done a post before ..just too difficult to express all of the pain. My husband was diagnosed @ age 52 w/ stage 3 colorectal cancer in 2007--found on his 1st colonoscopy--after 2 rounds of chemo & major radiation to this area--his rectum was removed/had a j-pouch-and had many painful & numerous bowel movements a day --in the bathroom up to 20X a day-- sometimes.
He has had 4 major surgeries since his diagnosis. Finally, he had a permanent colostomy in early 2011--neither of us could ever imagine that this would be our life. We have been forever changed. The colostomy seems to have solved several digestive issues and at least he is not in pain/running to the bathroom constantly & has more control of all. Prior to his colonoscopy, his only visit to a hospital was when he was born. No one should have to suffer like this, I totally agree. But life can be unimaginably hard as we all know. The colostomy has made our suffering more tolerable. Best, Carol
My husband is having trouble digesting food and we think it's due to the chemo. His surgeon said that many of his patients complain about how chemo affects their bowels. Does anyone else have issues with this problem or tricks to help chemo intestines go awawy. I'm very worried. He cannot gain weight. He had rectal cancer, his rectum was removed and has a j-pouch now...and not a colostomy. He's a 4-yr cancer survivor. He has extreme pain with abdomin pain and Bowel Movements. We think that there is a link between the chemo's after effect on the intestines so, does anyone know how to combat chemo intestines? I've heard of a breast cancer survivor that has had bowel/intesintal issues for 8-yrs and that's 8-yrs a cancer survivor. So, how many people suffer with chemo intestines issues and what can be done to fix/repair the chemo damage on ones intestines? I've removed many foods that cause gas, bloating & diarehia too. He eats no more corn, brocolli, kraut, & etc... I've taken gluten out of his diet about 1-yr ago and that isn't working either. I'd realy appreciate some kind of help/secret/solution ASAP!!! No one should have to suffer like he's been suffering. Thanx for the help.....bye, Diane
I moved in with my brother and his family. They have been wanting me to come for some time. I went from living on a gravel road with a lake in my backyard in mississippi to living with my only surviving immediate family in texas where i can barely find my way out of their neighborhood. I appreciate all they have sacrificed to have me in their home but with no way of my own transportation there is no way for me to get a part time job, meet people to make friends or even feel like i'm anything above existing. I don't understand my feelings or sure of my limitations, so how can I make the adjustment easier for me and my new full time family? I feeel like nothing more than a burden.
Julie's note brings tears to my eyes. No one should die, especially at such a young age, for lack of treatment. I have tried to keep my long nose out of other peoples' politics, but as the citizen of a country with socialized medicine, I can assure you it is the only fair way to go. It is far from perfect. There are provincial differences about what is covered, but I know that I will never lose coverage just because I was treated for cancer. Should I require further treatment, it will be given regardless of my social status or personal wealth. I can also assure you that my 91-year-old mother-in-law and my same age-aunt have not been set out to suffer or die. They get whatever tretment is medically necessary.
Julie, this is Sheryl. Most hospitals have a compassionate care program. You could inquire about this at your local hospital. Or, you may want to take a look at the services offered at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (http://www.stjude.org/referapatient). Depending on their requirements, she may qualify for a treatment trial.
I found out a young lady 19 or 20 that hangs out with one of my children has untreated lung cancer. She received radiation but her insurance co. dropped her (I don;t know if she was ineligible under her parents policy or they dropped their policies because they are about to lose their home.) At any rate I wish I could financially help her but I don't have the funds but I am on a mission to find out how to get her the treament she deserves. She is trying to work her way through college to get a special ed. degree so she will have insurance and help kids. I worry she is going to get sick soon. Do you know of anyone who can help to get her the lung cancer treatment she needs? please reply back with any ideas I just can't stand to wait on her cancer to progress. Thank you
This article was really informative! Thank you for posting it!
As noted, other survivors are great sources of assistance with lingering side effects. And given that your treatment was recently completed, I encourage you to bring your survivorship questions, in written form, to your follow up physician appointment. Your own persistence, and a request for help to develop a survivorship care plan, should start you on the way to recovery. Good luck!
I just finished my 3 round (of 6) of chemo for ovarian IV cancer. I have found that B6 twice a day helped me with my neuropathy, mostly burning of the bottoms of my feet and ringing of the ears. My oncology nurse suggested it and it did seem to work after I took it 2-3 days.
Gilda's Club is a wonderful place for cancer support. I have been attending the ovarian/gyn. support group at my local Gildas Club for nearly six years, thru 3 occurences of ovarian cancer. My friends at Gildas are now my best friends, more understanding, more supportive than any other friends or relatives. Its a great place for help and understanding.
Also with regard to neuropathy, my onocologist recommended L-Glutamine to be taken for 3 days after each chemo treatment. It has definitely helped keep the neuropathy at bay thru the last two recurrences of cancer. Please check with your doctors.
I am miserable with hypersensitive hands after 4 cycles of ABVD for stage 2 Hodgkins. I finished my chemo a month ago and the sensitivity seems to get worse. It hurts to turn on the lamp, to open the resealable cheese, even to open and close my water bottle.
My oncology nurse seemed pretty dismissive when I asked about it toward the end chemo. "oh it should get better in a few weeks". well its going the other way.
So are there topical meds or pills to help?
Will this likely get better over time?
thanks for sharing your perspective.
Long term cancer survivorship is a growing national concern as screening and treatment methods advance. 10 million Americans are in your shoes and we understand more every day about the late effects (those that pop up long after treatment is over), and long-term effects (those that arose during treatment but never went away) of cancer and it’s treatment. Survivors also experience emotional, social, financial, and employment difficulties that impair quality of life and make it difficult to move forward. I encourage you to list your concerns and make an appointment with your oncologist. If you have moved or lost track of this provider, find a new one and bring your records. Building a survivorship care plan is best done at the end of treatment, but it's never too late to start. The Lance Armstrong Livestrong website has an interactive care plan that might help you plan for this visit. You can find it at http://www.livestrongcareplan.org/questions.cfm. To validate your experience and give you direction, I definitely encourage you to tap into the survivorship education and support that is increasingly available. The Wellness Community's Cancer Transitions program http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/mm/Treatment-Ends/cancertransitions.aspx
is a great place to start. CancerCare.org also has a great phone counseling program and excellent guidance for survivorship concerns. You are not alone and the skills that helped you through treatment will guide you to the answers you need.
i am a 3 time cancer survivor i have had chemo radiation surgery i am starting to have problems from the treatment can you help me find someone who knows anything about long term effects from chemo and radiation
Hi! As Sheryl noted, social workers can address a surprising variety of needs and I'd love to share ways we can collaborate with you to improve quality of life. If you are a patient, or love someone with cancer, what are you struggling with? I'd love to give you the social work perspective: a resource, a way of looking at things you may not have thought about, or maybe just confirmation that it sounds like you're using your best strengths in a time of significant challenge.
To "check to see if your community has a Gilda's Club, a Wellness Community — known as the Cancer Support Community in some areas" visit http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/hc/Communities/Local-Communities/default.aspx or get support online at http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/mm/Community/default.aspx
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