Cancer: Living Well Despite with Win Boerckel (cont.)

wabe_grb_WebMD: Do most major health plans cover social worker visits?

Boerckel: It depends on the plan. Some will cover a limited number of visits similar to mental health benefits. There is a move to increase the latter to parity with medical health benefits. All of Cancer Care's services are available free of charge, and a number of other organizations such as the Wellness Community are similar.

Moderator: Can you explain a social worker's journey with the patient step by step? What can a patient expect and not expect?

Boerckel: We find that our workers start with the patient/family around the time of diagnosis. The worker usually then assists the patient in clarifying their treatment options and the decision-making involved in choosing the most appropriate treatment. The worker can be very helpful during the treatment phase as chemotherapy /radiation therapy can be uncomfortable and prolonged. The worker also serves a valuable role for the patient who achieves remission and feels a sense of vulnerability when the protective umbrella of treatment is no longer necessary. It's encouraging that we are helping more and more patients cope with the issues of survivorship.

Moderator: What are some of the main survivor issues?

Boerckel: An overwhelming anxiety that the disease will recur that can immobilize the recovered patient; a fear that without the chemo or radiation, the disease will return overnight.

Moderator: Do children have the same issues?

Boerckel: I've not worked with children, but our children's cancer workers tell me that children's issues are often more complex because they have a significantly different worldview than adults.

mold28_WebMD: Do you do work with family members also?

Boerckel: Yes, family members make up a large part of each worker's caseload.

Moderator: Let's speak about bereavement. What does the social worker do in that situation?

Boerckel: Cancer Care workers provide individual and group bereavement services to family members who have lost someone to cancer. The worker helps validate the bereaved person's feelings and works with them to help them confront the reality of their loss, the changes it has thrust upon their lives, and to find within each person the means to complete their grief journey.

Moderator: Well, our time is about up. Do you have any parting comments?

Boerckel: It certainly went quickly. I hope that anyone who has found out about Cancer Care this evening will visit our website (, call our counseling line (1 800 813 HOPE), or email us so that we can provide whatever help they or their family need in the struggle with this disease.

Moderator: Thank you. That was great! Our guest has been Win Boerckel, CSW. Boerckel serves as prostate cancer program coordinator for Cancer Care of Long Island, overseeing the office's three prostate cancer support groups and providing individual counseling to prostate cancer patients and their families. He also leads support groups for lung cancer patients and on bereavement at the organization's Woodbury, N.Y. office.

Good evening.

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