Patient and Family Support Team

man standing in front of a wall of brochures

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer can be very difficult and overwhelming. You and your family will have questions and concerns. It may be helpful for you to talk to a social worker or a dietitian from the Patient and Family Support Team.

Social Worker

social workers

A social worker can give you the support and information you may need to help answer your questions. We want to help you and your family with some of the concerns or challenges you may have since you were diagnosed with cancer.

Social workers are trained in counselling techniques to help you solve problems, make decisions and improve your feelings of wellbeing. We can do one to one counselling with you or your family members. We can also meet with you and your family members together. If you are having a hard time with your emotions, you are not alone. These emotions can be temporary with the right support and treatment. Caring for your emotional health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.

There are many practical ways that a social worker can help you. If you are not able to work during your treatment and you have financial concerns we can help you fill out disability forms. If you are planning to go back to work after your cancer treatment, we can talk with you about how to be ready to return to work. We can also help you to connect to other programs that can help you with this.

We can give you information about the community organizations that can help you with transportation or how to get help in your home. We can also help you with your Power of Attorney forms or help you to get legal advice.

Questions you may have for the social worker:

  • I am concerned about money. What financial support is available?
  • My family can't bring me to my appointments. How will I get to the Cancer Centre?
  • I have been feeling sad/scared/angry/stressed since I was diagnosed with cancer and it's affecting my relationships. How do I deal with it?
  • I keep thinking "why did this happen to me?" Or "how do I make sense of it all?"
  • I am feeling tired and can't do the same things around the house that I used to do. What community supports are there for me?
  • I worry about the future. Is there anything my family and I can do to be ready?
  • I worry about going back to work. What can I do to be ready to go back to work?


Patient and Family Support Team Classes

The Dietitians and Social Workers of the Patient and Family Support Team offer classes for you and your family members/friends to go to. These classes give information that can help you care for yourself while you are having your cancer treatment. The classes are held at Hearth Place Cancer Support Centre. Hearth Place is only a few minutes away from the Cancer Centre and parking is free.

  • Food for Thought class -This class will give you information about how to eat well.  A dietitian will talk about how you can manage your symptoms and stop losing weight.  We will answer your questions about antioxidants, natural health products and nutritional supplements.  We will talk about information you may read on the internet and give you the right information about these topics.
  • Take a Breath class - When diagnosed with cancer you may worry about how you will manage. This class will give you information about how stress affects your body. We will talk about and practice coping strategies to help you relax and feel better.
  • Money Matters class - When diagnosed with cancer you may worry about your finances. This class will give you information on financial assistance programs available through the government and cancer charities. Bring any forms you have to fill out to the class. We will help you complete them.

The BETTER Clinic

At the Durham Regional Cancer Centre, your emotional, mental and spiritual health is just as important to us as your physical health.  That's why we are starting the BETTER Clinic. The BETTER Clinic stands for: Building Emotional Therapies Through Education & Relationships.  

You can ask to be seen in the BETTER Clinic or a member of your healthcare team may talk to you about it.  Together, a social worker and  a psychiatrist will work with you to plan for the next steps in your care.  You will also be given information about supports and resources in the community that may help you.                                                  


A dietitian specializes in nutrition counselling and education. We can help you to manage the symptoms you have, keep you strong and stop you from losing weight during your treatment.

Questions you may have for a dietitian:

  • I am not hungry and I am losing weight. How can I improve my appetite?
  • I am experiencing side effects from my treatment such as nausea, constipation and taste changes. What can I do with my diet to help manage my symptoms?
  • Is there any food that I can eat that will help increase my energy?
  • I have heard about nutrition supplements. Should I be drinking them?
  • I am having a hard time drinking water. What other fluids can I drink during my treatment?

A dietitian is available to meet with you and your family to answer your questions and to give you support during your treatment.


To make an appointment with a social worker or dietitian call: 905-576-8711 or 1-866-338-1778 at extension 3282.

For more information on the Patient and Family Support Team Classes or to register for a class call 905-576-8711 or 1-866-338-1778 at extension 4030.

To learn more about the BETTER Clinic please talk to a member of your health care team.   


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