Q. My aunt was recently diagnosed with a form of gynecological cancer. What type of resources are available for my aunt? She is apprehensive about receiving treatment (surgery, biopsies, etc.) for her diagnosis. Also, are there any patient navigation services available to provide support for her and my cousin who is the primary caregiver?
Being apprehensive about treatment is not unusual after receiving a cancer diagnosis, and she may begin to feel overwhelmed. An oncology social worker can help your aunt with identifying how she is presently coping and learn new coping skills to manage any anxiety and fears about treatment, how to manage financial challenges, and how to talk with her medical team and her family about cancer and other practical concerns.
There are supports for your cousin as well, he/she may consider joining a support group, or pursue individual counseling as well. Caregivers have similar emotional concerns about a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, for example, providing emotional support for your loved one, managing the day to day activities, such as making appointments for your loved one’s treatment, or preparing meals. An oncology social worker can help the caregiver identify ways in which he/she is presently coping and then develop new coping skills, learn how to provide practical support while also caring for their own personal needs.
In regards to resources, there are several types, which are provided below:
CancerCare provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer: people with cancer, caregivers, children, loved ones, and the bereaved. Nationally, we can provide telephone counseling and support groups as well as online support groups. In addition, she or her caregiver can go directly to our website to obtain other publications and educational materials.
If she is interested in joining a face to face support group in her community she can contact the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org to find locations of nearby support groups.
Lastly, I would recommend she speak to the hospital social worker to see what is available. They may have counseling, support groups and wellness programs she can utilize.
CancerCare currently offers financial assistance to those who qualify. The financial assistance can be used for transportation, homecare or child care expenses. Additionally, she may qualify for assistance with medications. If she would like to apply for this assistance, she would need to call us directly and also fill out a financial application form she can contact our hope line at 800-813-4673.
I would also recommend she contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. They can connect her to her local office which may have financial assistance available.
Other organizations she can call and ask about financial help are: Patient Advocate Foundation at 800-532-5274. The Patient Advocate Foundation provides education, legal counseling and referrals to cancer patients concerning managed care, insurance and financial issues.
Lastly, I would encourage her to speak to a social worker or financial counselor at her treatment center and explain her financial situation. Most treatment facilities will work out payment plans, delayed payments or a reduction in a co-payment or help find outside financial resources.