It's Not Only Our Job, It's Our Passion

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology March 09, 2015
As an oncology social worker, one of my favorite responsibilities of my practice is becoming familiar with the “awareness months” for the various cancer diagnoses (March, for example, is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month*). These campaigns are great reminders throughout the calendar year to empower survivors and encourage advocacy and education in our communities. 

March is also National Social Work Month, which prompted me to pause and reflect about our role as part of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Supportive Oncology Team. Behind our bundled piles of paperwork and large mugs of coffee are hardworking individuals whose main priority is to remove barriers to care, and to promote sustainable emotional comfort during times of distress. Northwestern Medicine has a dynamic team of social workers who continually share a wide range of knowledge and resources, within a community dedicated to taking better care of our patient’s psychological and social well-being.
You may have already met a social worker at Northwestern during an inpatient stay or during an outpatient visit with your doctor. However, there are still many patients who are hesitant to reach out for help -- fearful that they may be perceived as “weak,” or worse, that their doctors will focus exclusively on their emotional or practical concerns instead of their medical treatment. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. The people who see social workers are, indeed, some of the strongest and most powerful patients you will ever encounter. Our physicians, nurses and other health care providers are as committed to supporting the overall well-being of our patients as they are to their medical care. 

So the next time you’re feeling lost, sad, angry, uncomfortable or anxious, know that a social worker is available to you to provide the support, guidance and validation you need. Because it’s not only our job, it’s our passion. 

Sandra Manley, MSW, LSW, is an oncology social worker and member of the Supportive Oncology Team at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
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