A cancer diagnosis can quickly impose a financial burden on you and your family, particularly for those in the lower income brackets. Costs for surgery, other treatments, and medications can add up, even if you have insurance and only have copays to cover. If treatment at a distant facility is recommended, long-distance travel costs can also add up quickly.
There are a variety of organizations and programs that provide services, such as transportation to treatment, access to medication, lodging, or other necessities. One or more of the services listed below may be able to provide you with some relief.
,Virginia-based organization that helps cancer patients get from one place to another for treatment. They serve as a kind of parent organization, working with various other groups to connect you to the service that best suits your needs. For example, if you are an outpatient who can walk to the plane and need to get to a treatment facility within 1,000 miles of your home, you may qualify for Angel Flight, a nonprofit organization of volunteer pilots who use their own aircraft to transport patients to the place of treatment. You must be in a situation of financial need but proof of your financial status is not required. If your destination is more than 1,000 miles from your home address, You may qualify for the Mercy Medical Airlift program that earns donated frequent flyer miles and book commercial airlines for your treatment and evaluation. Another program, funded by the California Community Foundation, provides air ambulance services to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their families. A fourth program, Air Compassion America, helps patients find discount air ambulance flights. founded by the California Community Foundation, provides air ambulance services to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their families. A fourth program, Air Compassion America, helps patients find discount air ambulance flights. founded by the California Community Foundation, provides air ambulance services to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and their families. A fourth program, Air Compassion America, helps patients find discount air ambulance flights.
Success Stories: A 48-year-old ovarian cancer survivor from Wisconsin, her husband, and their five children were living only on money from unemployment and disability programs. When she needed treatment, the helpline provided free air travel to California and Texas, relieving them of a huge financial burden.
- Hope Lodge is a service of the American Cancer Society (ACS),
- . Twenty-two hostels in 16 states and Puerto Rico currently provide free lodging for cancer patients who need outpatient treatment. You can get a complete list by calling the Society, (800) ACS-2345, or online atThe emphasis is on providing a caring, home-like environment that is conducive to healing.
- Success stories:
- A woman with cancer was staying at the Hope Lodge in Burlington, Vermont, and knew her stay would include Thanksgiving. More than 15 members of her family and her friends rented a school bus and traveled from New York to spend the holidays with her.
- Another ACS program,
- Road to Recovery
, provides transportation to local treatment for local cancer patients in need. Transfers are scheduled by calling the society's toll-free number or the American Cancer Society office.
(800) 813-HOPE, is a national nonprofit organization based in New York that provides transportation, some medications for side effects, and expenses for child care for cancer patients who require of these services. Grants are typically distributed in amounts of about $200, though they vary greatly depending on need and expense. Nearly $22 million in grants have been awarded in the last five years. In a normal year, support is provided to about 16,000 families. You can get an application form online.
Success story:A woman living in a small town in Virginia who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 51 needed to get treatment 40 miles from her home. She got a grant to cover transportation costs and some of her insurance copays. She has successfully completed treatment and now has a subsidy that helps cover the prescription drugs her doctor prescribed to prevent recurrence.
- Cancer Patient Care
, www.cancerpatientcare.org , (866) 696-3149, is a regional organization serving cancer patients in eastern Washington state and northern Idaho. (Across the country, other regionally based services also help cancer patients who need help. Ask your doctor or a social worker if they know about such services in your area.) Cancer Patient Care services include financial help for necessities. basics such as utilities and food, transportation to treatment, wigs and other equipment. In 2005, the Spokane, Washington-based organization helped more than 2,000 patients and their family members.
Success stories: A 34-year-old single mother of two lost her job. Cancer Patient Care gave her a $100 food voucher, paid her utility bills and put gas in her car.
- Needy Meds
, does not have a helpline but its website directs patients to generic and brand-name drug assistance programs, government programs and other resources. Think of them as the "yellow pages" for finding medications. You can search for medications alphabetically by brand or generic name to find out if they are available through a patient assistance program. You can also check out the list of nearly 400 programs and companies, including those that don't have a drug assistance program.
- Hill-Burton Act
, (800) 638-0742. This federal program provides funds for the construction and improvement of hospitals with conditions: they must provide a certain amount of free assistance to those who cannot pay for it. Across the country, some 268 institutions are required under the Hill-Burton Act to provide services.