Receiving a cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling hopeless, and such feelings are entirely understandable. But it’s important to realize that you are not alone, and there are many resources available to you.
Here, we have compiled a concise but invaluable set of tips and resources for navigating the road ahead and coping with cancer, both emotionally and financially.
Coping Emotionally with Cancer
Cancer diagnoses are life-changing – frightening and often overwhelming. The associations we have with the words ‘you have cancer’, can evoke deep feelings of hopelessness and depression, even if the reality of the prognosis is encouraging.
As individuals, our emotional needs can vary greatly. Our age, our closeness to family and friends, our proximity to medical care, the severity of our symptoms and our ability to carry on living normally can all impact the way in which we respond and need help. But no matter our individual circumstances, cancer takes its toll, and everyone needs and deserves vital emotional support.
Anything you can do to ease your emotional burden will help as you cope with your diagnosis and resulting treatments. Here are some suggestions.
Share your feelings
Give people the opportunity to love and care for you by opening up to them. It’s important to confide in friends and family members who can allow you to process your feelings by listening and providing nurturing understanding – every feeling you have is valid and deserves to be voiced. You are not a burden.
Cancer can bring about a complexity of emotions that become difficult to handle without professional guidance. Working with a counselor, psychologist or social worker can help you to sort through your emotions and avoid feeling debilitatingly overwhelmed. Confide in your Doctor or Nurse and ask that they refer you to the right specialist for you.
Find a support group
Support groups can be powerfully effective in having you feel less alone – working through your emotions with people who can share relatable stories is often a highly rewarding process that alleviates a good deal of depression and feelings of isolation. You are not alone – you just have to find your people. The American Cancer Society has an online program where you can search for programs in your area.
Coping Financially with Cancer
Living with cancer can place an extreme financial burden on our lives. For some, facing the barrage of medical costs with little-to-no health insurance can be overwhelming. For others, even if their cover is adequate, additional costs such as prescriptions, transportation or extra childcare can take their toll, especially as for many, fighting cancer requires you to limit or cease working.
It’s not easy, but there are many resources available to help you. Here are some steps you can take.
Confide in your health care providers
Oncology social workers have a great deal of experience with these issues and may be able to help you and/or point you in the right direction of useful local resources.
Contact your insurance company
It’s important to ease your mind wherever possible by getting clarity around your benefits and finding other ways to receive helpful health services. That’s what they are there for.
Research Government Program Entitlements
Ensure you are accessing all the help available to you by contacting:
- Social Security Administration 800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov
- Medicare & Medicaid Services 800-633-4227 or visit www.cms.gov
- Or contact local listings for a Medicaid Office in your area
Maximise assistance from non-profit organizations
CancerCare’s Online Helping Hand is also an invaluable resource – a database of both practical and financial assistance available to cancer patients and their families, including a handy search tool for finding help via diagnosis or zip code.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of freebies available for cancer patients out there, including grants and subsidies for treatments, free wigs, care packages, cleaning services, tax filing, and more.
Tips for managing finances
- Keep track of all important documentation
- Stay organised regarding budgeting, emergency funds etc
- Consider all possible assets that you could draw money from – property, life insurance etc
- Try to stay ahead of medical bills, as they can snowball quickly – and seek advice as soon as you realise that you are falling behind
- Get help – seek advice from services and social workers – people want to help you and its important that you reach out
Here are just some of the Financial Assistance Resources available:
- CancerCare 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)
- CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation 1-866-55-COPAY (6729)
- Good Days 1-877-968-7233
- Healthwell Foundation 1-800-675-8416
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance 1-888-477-2669
- Patient Access Network Foundation 1-866-316-7263
- Patient Advocate Foundation Co-Pay Relief Program www.copays.org
- Patient Services Incorporated 1-800-366-7741
There are so many avenues for support once you start digging – take one step at a time and evaluate them all. You are not alone, nor do you deserve to feel like you are.
It’s understandable that you may want to bury your head in the sand, and of course, symptomatically you may be struggling to stay on top of things – if you need to, seek help to seek help! Let someone who loves you know that you want to access important resources for your wellbeing, but you need someone to help you with the process.