When facing a cancer diagnosis, your care team can be a whirlwind of people in scrubs and white coats, poking, prodding, asking questions, and encouraging you as they ensure you get the best treatment. 

But who are the other members on your care team?  There are certainly other members who might not get all the glory! This blog is designed to help you learn more about these important members of your colorectal cancer care team.

Social Workers

Making sense of all the hospital lingo and insurance acronyms is a tall task. Anyone who can help lighten this mental load is definitely part of your care team. The sooner your mind can focus on recovering and not worrying about hospital forms the better.  The roles of a social worker may change depending on the hospital, so make sure you ask what your social worker’s role is.

Your social worker or hospital may also organize different support groups you can attend. While friends and family are a tremendous help, sometimes they will not or cannot understand everything you are going through. The shared experience of cancer in these groups will blunt the loneliness and isolation of a cancer diagnosis.

Home Health Aides

Home health aides can be a tremendous help to you and your loved ones. They visit you in the comfort of your own home to help with daily tasks,hygiene, and shopping needs.

Home health aides have a wealth of knowledge and experience different from your doctors. While it’s not a substitute for medical advice and instructions, lean on their experience in helping people recover at home. Perhaps they know different strategies and tricks to manage your care at home like a certain heating pad, sitting positions that relieves pressure from pain points, or meals that are easier to prepare. 

Don’t underestimate the impact they will have on your quality of life!

Friends and Family

Friends and family are there for us in our best and worst moments. They put up with our idiosyncrasies and oddities, forgive us in our weak moments, accompany us in moments of despair, and celebrate our accomplishments. All of these are invaluable even without a cancer diagnosis, but all of these become even more critical as everything can feel, and be, exponentially harder as you go through treatment and recovery.

Friends and family can play a variety of different roles throughout your treatment. They go to the store when you run out of your favorite comfort food when you don’t have the energy to go yourself. They can fill you in on all the news of your social circle. Not to mention, they know you best and will go above and beyond to keep you comfortable.

Be open and honest with them about how you are feeling, while also recognizing they will have their own bad days and reactions to your journey.

Another great role of family and friends is attending doctors appointments with you as another set of eyes and ears. Ask them to help you remember to ask important questions (they might even come up with questions you didn’t). Or they can simply be there with you for moral support, binge watching your favorite TV show with you.

And more!

A team composed of health care workers (and caregivers!) who are members of different disciplines, called a multidisciplinary team, helps ensure that you’re getting optimal, well rounded care. Your Guide in the Fight has a long list of other professionals to help you along the way, including fertility specialists, physical therapists, genetic counselors, registered dietitians, patient navigators, psychologists, and more. 

This post was written by advocate Aaron Lockee. Aaron is a new resident to Springfield, Missouri, home of Fight CRC’s headquarters. He graduated from Rockhurst University with his MBA, and has been focused on helping populations and communities address health and economic disparities. His Spanish and Serbo-Croatian allow him to reach out and include voices that are not often enough sought after or heard. Aaron was introduced to the organization through his wife, who is a Fight CRC Ambassador, after her father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.

Resources You May Find Helpful

If you’re a caregiver seeking information, be sure to check out the following medically reviewed resources:

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