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Support Services for Patients and Their Families

When it comes to cancer care, you’re more than just your body. The disease can come with complex emotions that stem from the stress of navigating treatment, the toll it takes on your body, and the adjustment to a new normal after treatment is over.

Social workers can be a phenomenal resource for coping with any emotional issues that arise.

Fox Chase social worker Anjali Albanese, MSW, LSW, OSW-C answers some of the common questions about a number of support services offered for cancer patients and their families and how to take advantage of them.

Q: How can social work services help patients and their families?

A: “Dealing with cancer can be challenging for both patients and their caregivers,” Albanese said. “Whether you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, need help navigating your treatment plan, or want to connect with others who understand what you’re going through, trained social workers can help.” 

If a social worker is not already actively involved in your care, you can reach out to your care team and ask how to best contact them.

Q: What types of services are offered by oncologic social workers?

A: “Social workers play a number of different roles. We’re here to help patients and their families in whatever way works best for them,” Albanese said.

At Fox Chase Cancer Center, specifically, we offer a diverse range of services, including:

Counseling. Cancer treatment can trigger a range of feelings for patients. Being a caretaker, too, can come with its own set of emotional challenges. Sometimes simply talking things through with a social worker—either in person or on the phone—can make it easier to cope.

Help with managing treatment. Cancer care often has many moving parts, and they aren’t always easy to follow. “Social workers are here to walk you through each stage of your treatment plan. And if you have questions or feel like you aren’t being heard, we’ll act as advocates to help you get what you need,” she said.

Support group referrals. Fox Chase offers support groups for many different types of cancer, as well as groups for caregivers. Albanese said social workers can point you in the direction of the one that’s right for you. 

Educational events. When it comes to cancer, knowledge is power.
Fox Chase’s Resource and Education Center (REC) hosts monthly education sessions on topics like relaxation techniques and talking with kids about cancer.

Help with financial assistance programs. Paying for treatment can be difficult, especially if you have to take time off work without pay. “We can bring you up to speed on grants and assistance programs to help ease the financial burden that may occur as someone goes through treatment.  We can assist with the application process too,” Albanese said.

Q: Do patients have to pay for these services?

A: “Everything offered by Fox Chase’s Social Work Services is free, regardless of what kind of insurance coverage you have,” she said. “And the services are always confidential.”

Q: Are there any other support services in the Philadelphia area that you recommend?

A: Albanese said one great resource in the area is the Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia. This unique nonprofit offers support and education for anyone affected by cancer—including kids and teens. And they have multiple locations around the region, so they’re easy to access.

Q: How can patients access social work services?

A: If you are a Fox Chase patient, there are lots of ways to get in touch. Call the social work department directly at 215-728-2668 or visit Fox Chase’s Social Work Services page.

You can also get more information from your doctor or nurse. If you are not a Fox Chase patient, ask your care team how to get in touch with the social work services where you are being treated.