82TAB FIVE | RESOURCES patient guide
Your UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center medical team may refer you to one of our oncology social workers, who are
able to help you and your family manage many of the difﬁculties associated with a cancer diagnosis. An oncology social
worker is an important member of the health care team and can provide you and your family with counseling, education
and information services, as well as referrals to community resources.
For most people, a cancer diagnosis brings new feelings and experiences, and an oncology social worker can help people
work through these issues. An oncology social worker understands that there are many aspects of a person’s life that
contribute to his or her cancer experience, such as a person’s ethnicity, spirituality, and family situation, and that cancer
also affects each person differently. He or she talks to people about the different aspects of adjusting to the cancer, and
helps ﬁnd strategies to adapt to and manage health care concerns. Talking with a professional who has helped other
people manage similar situations may help a cancer patient ﬁnd ways to improve his or her quality of life, manage fears
and ﬁnd hope. This process can happen through individual, couples and family counseling; support groups; and referrals
to community agencies that have additional support programs.
Another role of an oncology social worker is as a liaison between the person with cancer and the medical team. Because
an oncology social worker has advanced training in cancer treatment and how these treatments affect a person with
cancer, he or she can help patients and their families understand the treatment options. For example, an oncology social
worker helps gather and organize the information people need to make decisions about their care and arrange a meeting
with the patient, family members and the medical team to discuss the those options. A social worker can also refer people
to additional educational resources and to community organizations that have information about cancer.
An oncology social worker helps people connect to the resources they need to ﬁnd practical help. For some people,
this involves a referral to the ﬁnancial aid ofﬁce of the hospital, or instructions for applying for disability, or an explanation
of rights covered under the Family Medical Leave Act. For others, it means learning about support groups at a local
community wellness center. An oncology social worker can also help begin discussions about the cost of cancer care.
The physicians and staff of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center understand that cancer not only affects the physical
body, but it can also affect personal thoughts and feelings. Not only do we want to attend to your physical needs, but
we want to provide you with the emotional and social well-being you and your family will need throughout your treatment
program. Please talk to your care team to see how an oncology social worker can help you. There is no charge for the
service and your conﬁdentially will always be respected.
Legal Issues: Practical Suggestions
Disclaimer: The information below is provided as general information for you, but does not constitute legal advice or
recommendations. You should consult your attorney for legal advice.
Advance directives for health care are signed legal documents informing you, your family and health care teamof your
wishes for future medical care if you become too sick to speak for yourself (Living Will). You can also name a person you
would like to make medical decisions for you if you are too sick to speak for yourself (Health Care Proxy). A living will