A cancer diagnosis can be a trying time for any patient and their family. In Lawrence, the local oncology center has social workers on staff to help guide them through treatment.
And even the doctors and nurses there have learned, through their years of experience, the best way to deal with patients and family members going through difficult periods.
Suzanne McGinn, an oncology nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, says staff members have to be able to read which patients are touchy-feely and which would prefer to be left alone. Even then, grieving can be a highly individualized process.
"You listen to them. You hold their hand. You cry with them. You pray with them," she said. "You support them however you can."
And patients, through their strength in the face of extreme challenges, in turn inspire the oncology staff.
"It gives us a benchmark for how to live our lives," said Jyl Haynes, another LMH oncology nurse.
Meanwhile, social workers Liv Frost and Erin Henderson assist patients and families with a wide variety of needs, from financial to emotional.
There are many resources available for patients who are uninsured or unable to afford their treatment, but they can be difficult to navigate. So the social workers help patients identify which programs can meet their specific needs.
The LMH Endowment Association's Catch a Break program helps patients pay for things like groceries, utility bills and rent. Pharmaceutical companies often offer financial assistance for uninsured patients, as does the hospital itself. And with the Affordable Care Act, cancer patients who had previously been denied coverage because they had a preexisting condition can enroll in the health insurance marketplace.
The social workers also help patients with decisions like living wills and powers of attorney.
In addition, LMH hosts a cancer support group at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month in the oncology center waiting room, 330 Arkansas St., Suite 105, as well as the Children's Lives Include Moments of Bravery, or CLIMB, support group for children of cancer sufferers.
"We have a lot of resources to help heal and guide people through what can be a devastating time," said Frost.