As a social worker on an inpatient unit of a New York City hospital, I am reminded, on a daily basis, of just how important psychosocial support is in the lives of individuals affected by illness. Although many of my patients are fortunate to have wonderful support networks, equally as many (if not more) of my patients have very limited family/friend support. Sometimes, I even come across patients who state they do not have anyone to list as their emergency contact person. My role as the unit’s social worker is to help my patients and their families cope with and understand the various medical, psychological, and social issues related to their illness. I work with the patients, their families/friends, and the medical team to determine a safe, appropriate discharge plan. For those patients with limited or no family/friend support, I try my best to make them feel that they are not alone during their hospitalization. However, I do not continue to follow my patients once they leave the hospital. Upon discharge, patients are set up with medical follow up appointments and are referred for home care or rehabilitation, if necessary. But, where will they turn for psychosocial support?
In the fall of 2012, I attended my first Red Ball, where I learned about the Cancer Support Community and its mission to provide support, education, and hope to people affected by cancer. CSC is a unique organization in that it is not confined to any specific hospital, wellness center, or community. Rather, it offers programs that are accessible to patients and their families nationwide, and that can be utilized by any one, at any time, anywhere. There is even a telephone helpline and an online support community! I am thrilled to have joined CSC’s Young Leadership Council this year, and am grateful for the opportunity to help this fantastic organization.
For information about how you can become involved with the Cancer Support Community and the Young Leadership Council, please contact Christina Raia at 646-600-7560