March is Social Work Month. Here at Cancer Support Community Central NJ, our social workers are at the heart of our mission. Most people do not understand how the social work profession can help strengthen communities and change lives. Social Workers are trained to help empower people to be able to address the challenges they face in life and to enhance people’s well-being.

Being told that you have cancer is a life changing experience. Having to navigate the complex web that is the healthcare system when you have cancer can feel equally overwhelming.  Our social workers are trained to engage with people, understand their concerns and connect them with resources that will help address their essential needs.

When someone comes to Cancer Support Community Central NJ, a social workers meets with them to understand where they are in their cancer journey.  When individuals are under tremendous stress, these professionals can help them sift through the complex maze of emotions that they may be feeling. They help people uncover the areas where they need support. They successfully facilitate discussion among diverse groups’ individuals, whose common bond is cancer, by creating a safe space for people to explore all aspects of their personal experience.  I am always amazed at the skill with which they can move a support group forward together, and yet ensure that each individual’s needs are being met. When one individual is struggling, it is the strength of the group and the facilitation skills of the Social Worker that pulls them through.  Social Workers consider the whole person, seeking to understand all the stressors a person may be experiencing, and identifying the most impactful aspects of our program that can make a difference, or making recommending referrals into the community.

Not long ago, a participant told me that after his diagnosis he did not know where to turn.

“I had to make a treatment decision, but every healthcare professional I met with advocated for the treatment they provided. Not until I came to Cancer Support Community did I finally fell like I had an advocate on my side.  The social worker gave me the tools and support I needed to feel empowered to make the decision that was right for me and my family.” 

Many people hope that at the end of their lives, that they could look back and feel they had made even a small difference in the lives of others.  For those in the social work field and in particular, those social workers at Cancer Support Community, there is peace and gratitude in knowing that one has had the opportunity every day to change lives in both big and small ways.

I personally want to thank all the social workers whom I have been privileged to work with over the years within hospice care, healthcare, community based mental health services, and now Cancer Support Community Central NJ.

Amy Sutton, Executive Director 

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