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What Role Does an Oncology Social Worker Play in Myeloma Care?

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Published on January 11, 2018

How can myeloma patients make the most out of their healthcare team? What role does an oncology social worker play in myeloma care? Expert Robin Katz of Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center shares resources that many cancer centers have available to benefit both patients and care partners. Watch as she also discusses how oncology social workers can provide support for patients and families dealing with the complexities of cancer.

The Living Well with Myeloma series is a Patient Empowerment Network Program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Takeda, Amgen and AbbVie for their support.

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Transcript | What Role Does an Oncology Social Worker Play in Myeloma Care?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

So you’re a social worker. So, how can an oncology social worker—they’re not at every clinic, but there are a lot at the major myeloma clinics—it sounds like we should seek you out. If I were in Chicago, I’d want to have a sit-down with you. So that’s something we can ask for, right? 

Robin Katz:        

Yeah. A lot of the bigger institutions have social workers. It just so happens here at Northwestern, we’re divided up by disease type. So I cover all the blood cancers, and then we have for women’s cancers, et cetera. But, even community hospitals—where they don’t have a lot going on—generally have a generalist social worker that a patient can meet with to either discuss what’s on their minds and what’s bothering them, or how they can turn off their mind when they’re worrying incessantly, or if they need something tangible like transportation or something like that.

Andrew Schorr:

Or a consultation with a psychiatrist for them or family, or ongoing counseling. I’ve said this before, but Esther and I went into counseling when I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 21 years ago. Esther ended up being prescribed an anti-anxiety drug that she continues to take today. It’s helped her as we’ve gone through the highs and lows of treatment, and into remission, and I was diagnosed with a second blood cancer, et cetera.

And today, we’re both okay, and we’ve had a lot of really good days and a lot of really good times, and we probably will go to New Zealand, so we’re going to do that. Well, I want to thank you so much. Robin, are there any final comments you want to make? We’ve talked about resources, talked about small steps, and we’ve talked about the community. Does all that sound good to you. 

Robin Katz:        

Yeah, and just to let anybody who’s watching as a patient, if anything is on their mind, to reach out to their oncologist, or if there is a social worker or psychologist. Nothing is too small to bring up. It’s a very difficult period in one’s life, it’s a big interruption, and we’re here to help you. So nothing is too small to discuss.

Andrew Schorr:

Right, and I’d say also, when nothing is too small, it’s not just about you. If your spouse is having a hard time, bring that up. If your kid is out there in the street acting crazy because they don’t know what’s going to happen to Mom or Dad who’s diagnosed with myeloma, bring that up. 

Robin Katz:        

Yes, because what we don’t know, we can’t help you with.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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