A cancer diagnosis raises a wide range of challenges and concerns. Fortunately, there are local and national resources to assist you with many of the issues that come up. This fact sheet describes many kinds of services available to people with cancer and their loved ones and how to find the help you need.
What Kind of Help Can I Get?
General Information. Many reputable general and diagnosis-specific cancer organizations provide reliable, up-to-date information on treatment options, clinical trials, managing side effects and more.
Emotional Support. A person can feel lonely, scared or distressed when diagnosed with cancer or being a caregiver. Counseling, support groups, peer-to-peer networks and other kinds of support are available to help you cope with such emotions.
Financial Help. There are organizations and companies that help people with cancer and their families with medical billing, insurance and reimbursement issues. There are also co-payment organizations and patient assistance programs that help individuals who cannot afford the cost of medications as well as organizations that help with general expenses related to cancer such as transportation, child care and home care.
Transportation Assistance. In many communities, transportation services are available to help you. By contacting your local United Way, you can find out what programs are available in your area (www.unitedway.org).
Housing/Lodging. Some organizations provide free or discounted lodging for families of a patient undergoing treatment. Joe’s House is an online directory of places to stay near hospitals and treatment centers. Visit www.joeshouse.org for more information. Visit www.airbnb.com/openhomes for more information regarding their open home temporary stay program.
Children’s Services. There are organizations that provide services for children with cancer or children who have a family member with cancer. These include financial assistance, counseling, summer camps and “make-a-wish” programs.
Home Health Care. Home health care is for people who no longer need to be in the hospital, but still require skilled care at home.
Hospice Services. Hospice care focuses on the needs of individuals who are terminally ill. Visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website, www.nhpco.org, to find a hospice or palliative care center in your community.
How Do I Find These Resources?
The services you need can be found in your own neighborhood. Here are some ideas:
Your Health Care Team. Doctors, nurses and social workers can provide a wealth of information about your cancer diagnosis and treatment. The libraries at cancer centers are also excellent sources of information. Hospital social workers and discharge planning coordinators are great resources for information about counseling, home care, transportation and child care. CancerCare’s oncology social workers are licensed professionals who counsel people affected by cancer and can help people navigate resources based on individual needs. To learn more, visit www.cancercare.org or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).
Local/County Government. Local governments often offer low-cost transportation. Government agencies can give you information on Social Security, state disability, Medicaid, income maintenance and food stamps.
CancerCare’s A Helping Hand. CancerCare’s A Helping Hand (www.cancercare.org/helpinghand) is a searchable, online database of financial and practical assistance available for people with cancer. This comprehensive online tool features up-to-date contact information and descriptions for hundreds of national and regional organizations offering financial help to people with cancer.
Edited by Danielle Saff, LMSW