As the largest nonprofit provider of social and emotional support services for cancer patients and their loved ones in the United States, we are always thankful for the incredible Cancer Support Community (CSC) and Gilda’s Club employees who provide professional services to hundreds of thousands of people impacted by cancer each year. Many of these tireless individuals are professional social workers (in addition to many licensed mental health professionals) and since March is national social work month, we want to take a moment to thank them for the passion, knowledge, and energy they bring to their work each day. We also want to say that we are particularly appreciative of their efforts during this complicated time, which has made many people feel a heightened sense of anxiety, sadness, or concern.
If you’ve ever been to a CSC or Gilda’s Club location, spoken to one of our helpline counselors, or even interacted with one of the social workers on our headquarters staff, you likely know about the broad range of services (like support groups and personalized navigation services) we provide to anyone impacted by cancer, completely free of charge.
Over the past few weeks, we have spoken to patients, survivors, and their loved ones, and understand their concerns about the Coronavirus. Situations like this can be scary, especially for people who are impacted by cancer or those with compromised immune systems. That’s why our professional social workers, and all our staff, have been working to ensure that our services remain available to people who need them. This includes the following:
- A new webpage (cancersupportcommunity.org/coronavirus) which is being revised daily with educational information about the coronavirus, updates on federal guidance, and resources for people dealing with isolation, anxiety, or uncertainty.
- Our Helpline is now open 7 days-a-week. People impacted by cancer can call 888-793-9355 to talk to someone and/or be connected with resources.
- Our CSC and Gilda’s Club affiliate locations have gone virtual to ensure that essential services are still available. You can check their updated offerings by visiting their individual websites.
- Our digital platform My Life Line is available 24/7 to help people share their stories and connect with others.
As this situation evolves, we will continue to determine the best ways to serve people impacted by cancer and we will be here to educate with evidence-based information, provide answers when possible, and support people during this time of great need.
Every March, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, which I think is particularly relevant this year:
Breathes there a social worker, who, though he is weary, tense, and with a soul worn threadbare, is not ready to start to work all over again in this cause. -Neva Deardoff (1933).
I know that my social work colleagues are honored to serve people impacted by cancer and would indeed, start all over—choosing psycho-oncology as our life’s pursuit. We are passionate about serving others, especially in moments like these.