Financial Assistance for Young Adult Cancer Survivors (Applications Due July 19)

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Common challenges facing many 20 & 30 year olds include paying off school loans, finding a job, securing health insurance and learning to live on their own.  These challenges are often compounded if there’s a history of cancer. When many young adults are finished with treatment, medical bills may have piled up, they are now too old to be on their parent’s insurance, and the debt starts spiraling out of control… but there’s help….

 

The SAM Fund provides financial assistance to young adults as they move forward with their lives after cancer.  Grants & scholarships can cover a wide range of post-treatment financial needs, including (but not limited to): current and residual medical bills, car and health insurance premiums, rent, utilities, tuition and loans, family-building expenses, gym memberships and transportation costs.  In 2011, SAM Fund awarded a total of $135,000 in grants and scholarships to 92 young adult survivors all over the country.  BTW, SAM Fund stands for Surviving And Moving Forward.  LOVE IT!

 

2013 Application Process is NOW OPEN.  Here’s how it works:

1.  Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 39; a resident of the United States; and either finished with active treatment and free of cancer OR be one year following the completion of planned therapy OR be in remission on maintenance therapy.  If you have questions about eligibility, please email grants@thesamfund.org.

 

2.  Anyone interested in applying must first submit Part One of the application which is due by Friday, July 19th at 5:00 pm EST.  After a review period, selected applicants will then be invited to submit Part Two. Those applicants will be notified in November as to whether they have received a grant.

 

3.  Interested in learning more?

 

Financial Assistance For Cancer Patients Who Can Not Work Due to Cancer Treatments

 

The financial hardship that a diagnosis of cancer can bring has the potential to be tremendous.  Many people are unable to work during treatments and without income, it is difficult for many to cover their every day living expenses not to mention all of the added expenses related to having a medical condition like co-pays, RXs, supplements, OTC meds, testing that insurance doesn’t cover.  What are people in this situation to do? 

 

Check out The C.H.A.I.N. Fund, Inc… they provide financial assistance to cancer patients who are unable to work as a result of undergoing strenuous cancer treatments.  The C.H.A.I.N. Fund grants can assist in areas such as mortgage, rent, utilities, doctor visit co-pays, prescriptions co-pays (for cancer drugs only), insurance co-pays, & special food needs.   These grants can not be used for any medical treatments, insurance deductibles, car payments, car insurances, cable television, internet services or cell phones.

 

Click HERE for more information as well as an application.  All assistance is made at the sole discretion ofThe C.H.A.I.N. Fund, Inc.  Assistance is given on an interim basis (up to 12 months at most) and any payments awarded will be  made directly to the recipient’s service providers. Additionally, the following exclusions apply:

  1. You do NOT qualify if you are currently receiving monthly financial aid through your State and/or Social Security Disability Programs OR a local Department of Human Service or Welfare.
  2. You do NOT qualify if you are retired and receiving a monthly pension check from a former employer.
  3. You do NOT qualify if your utility bills are currently being paid through a local Low income Home Energy Assistance Program.

 

 

Champions Oncology & Sarcoma

 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the organizations I write about in this blog; others I wish I had known about during our “cancer journey”; and still others, although not relevant to Alan’s cancer are fantastic resources that can help others in their fight against cancer.

 

Champions Oncology is one of the organizations that we were lucky to find. Their co-founder Dr. David Sidransky is one of the smartest and most dedicated cancer warriors I know. Champions is doing great work to help fight cancer… one person at a time. Watch this YouTube video above about a man who was diagnosed with sarcoma to learn more.  And click HERE to see what I wrote about Champions based on my personal experience.

Meditation Can Help Alleviate Some Side Effects from Cancer Treatment

Meditation (N):  A mind-body process that uses concentration or reflection to relax the body and calm the mind.

Meditation has many benefits for general health and well-being.  The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that regular meditation can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans.  Meditation may also have specific benefits for people who are living with cancer.  Studies suggest that meditation can help boost the immune system, ease chronic pain as well as improve mood, cognitive function (chemobrain), energy levels and quality of sleep.  Because of this, many cancer treatment centers now offer meditation or relaxation therapy in conjunction with standard medical care.  (source:  American Cancer Society)

 

Interested in learning how to meditate?  Although there are many different styles of meditation, my good friend Pat suggests Headspace, a really cool website (with an accompanying mobile app for both iPhone & Android) that can teach you how.  They have a FREE 10 day trial package (after that, their guided meditations cost approximately $10 a month). This program takes just 10 minutes a day.

 

*** Although most experts agree that the positive effects of meditation outweigh any negative reactions, please talk to your doctors before starting any type of meditation- especially one that involves movement of joints and muscles.

Do you meditate?  Where did you learn how? 

Navigating A Diagnosis of Mesothelioma

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This post was written by guest blogger Tim Povtak.  Tim is a former newspaper reporter  who has been writing for The Mesothelioma Center since 2011.  The Mesothelioma Center provides incredible support and resources for people and families who need help understanding and coping with this disease.

Knowledge is key when it comes to battling malignant mesothelioma cancer. The more you know, the better you will feel about the fight. Not only is it tough to pronounce, it’s even tougher to understand all the intricacies involved.

Getting skilled help is crucial. It’s just not easy to do.

To help someone first diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s vital to find the right resources – doctors and other medical professionals who see it regularly —  and a support group that is traveling the same route.

There is no replacement for experience.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer – only 3,000 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States — caused almost exclusively by an exposure to asbestos, the naturally occurring mineral that was used extensively through much of the 20th century.

Reliable information can be difficult to find. Although there is no cure, recent curative advancements have been made. Novel therapies are being developed today. Alternative, supplemental remedies can help, too.

Selecting the right specialist might be the most important decision a patient will face. That’s where help, and support, is needed.

A typical diagnosis of mesothelioma may sound like a death sentence – six to 18 months was the norm not long ago – but many patients are surviving longer, and some even thriving, with the right help.

Rule No. 1: Don’t Do It Alone

As a caregiver, or just good friend, it’s important to learn about the disease. There is an easy-to-read encyclopedia of resources available at Asbestos.com.

The Mesothelioma Center helps patients and caregivers find the best doctors and the most appropriate cancer centers with the latest and greatest, most technologically advanced equipment. This is not the time to take short cuts.

At Asbestos.com, there are Patient Advocates who can advise patients and caregivers on where to turn, what to do next and how to connect with medical professionals. There is a registered nurse on staff to answer questions. There is a Veterans Department with counselors to answer questions that might be exclusive to veterans, helping navigate through the often-frustrating VA Health Care System.

Rule No. 2: Find a Support Group

There is a support group at Asbestos.com that meets the second Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m. EST. You can join in online or by phone. It’s moderated by a licensed mental health counselor and open to mesothelioma patients, families and caregivers who can ask questions, discuss concerns and chat on various topics.

There also is a Mesothelioma Facebook page, where ideas are exchanged and support is received. Also, check out the Wall of Hope, a section on mesothelioma survivors who have beaten the odds because they refused to concede to this terrible cancer.

Rule No. 3: Stay Positive

There is hope, so don’t believe all the gloom and doom. Explore the world of clinical trials. Mesothelioma treatment is changing. Gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy are the future, but they aren’t yet part of the traditional approach. They are available, though, through various clinical trials. Go to the National Cancer Institute website to see what is being offered.

Something could work. There is no universal therapy that works for everyone, but people respond differently to different treatments. Finding the right one sometimes takes the help of a friend.

10 Reasons Why I’m a Fan of The Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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For years I’ve seen television commercials for The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)But are they really as good as they appear to be?  I’ve visited their Arizona facility twice and I have to say, I think they might be that good. If nothing else, I’m impressed with the way they attack cancer (and I don’t get impressed easily ;-))…

 

Below are 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) of why I’m a huge fan:

1.  Practice personalized medicine.  CTCA treats each cancer as unique and tailor a treatment protocol to match each person’s unique needs and diagnosis.  CTCA will run genetic and biomarker testing on tumors.  They will even prescribe off-label drug treatments (drugs that are not part of the standard protocol) if the standard of care is not doing the job. They also take a proactive approach to treating side effects caused by cancer treatments.

 

2.  Integrative team approach.  Every patient at CTCA gets a team of at least 5 professionals assigned to care for them including a medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager.  Of course, surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, etc. will also become part of the team if their areas of expertise are required.  And get this, they all talk to each other and create a joint plan of action together.  They work together to treat the entire person before treatment begins, during treatment and even after treatment ends.   CTCA also employs licensed acupuncturists and massage therapists to help patients manage the side effects of treatment.

 

3.  100% focused on cancer.  Need I say more?! BTW, approximately 65% of the people being treated at CTCA have advanced or complex cancers. They are used to tough cases.  And they don’t give up.

 

4.  Make having cancer a little less stressful.  Schlepping from one doctor to the next; coordinating care and communications between different doctors and different hospitals; tracking down records, getting prescriptions, battling with insurance, etc. is downright exhausting.  At CTCA, they do all this for you.  You show up to your appointment and your team of doctors come to you.  

 

5.  Latest & greatest equipment.  CTCA offers cutting edge, treatment options and state-of-the-art technology like Cyberknife, TomoTherapy®, Cord Blood Transplants, Calypso® 4D Localization System™/GPS for the Body®, Tuning Fork, genetic & molecular profiling & much more.

 

6.  Nutritious & delicious food.  If you’ve ever eaten hospital food, you know how much it sucks.  Sorry, but it does.  The food they serve at their facilities is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  It’s all freshly prepared, made from organic ingredients whenever possible and inexpensive (I swear).   Each facility has it’s own smoothie bar and serves Starbucks coffee (seriously).  The Arizona facility even has it’s own organic farm.

 

7.  Works with many insurance companies.  CTCA works with many different insurances (typically not medicare or medicaid though).  All costs are pre-determined so there will be no surprise charges.  Acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic and other mind-body work are included, even if these services are not covered by your insurance carrier.

 

9.  Incredible amenities.  On-site pharmacy; on-site boutique specializing in wigs, head shavings, head coverings & mastectomy products- all sold at 30% below retail; on-the-premises spa; 24X7 visiting hours; really nice private hospital rooms that are ICU-capable with nearby subsidized hotel rooms for approximately $40 a night; massage & pampering for caregivers; only green products are used to clean the center; all medical records & results are 100% digital; really nice infusion bays; pet therapy dogs, free laundry services; the list goes on and on.  They even throw parties to celebrate different milestones throughout this journey.

 

10.  Survivorship programs.  Once active treatment is complete, CTCA Survivorship Program lends support to survivors as they get back into the swing of things.

 

THE BOTTOMLINE:  CTCA treats every patient as a person, not a number.  They take personalized cancer care to a new level…  They offer realistic hope to their patients.  I wish we had looked into receiving treatment there for Alan.

Top 3 Tips for Survivorship

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In honor of National Cancer Survivor’s Day, Arash Asher, MD, a cancer survivorship expert and director of the Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute recommends incorporating the 3 tips below into daily life…

1. Avoid social isolation and chronic loneliness

Chronic loneliness can change a patient’s biological makeup, possibly increasing the chance of recurrence as well as higher death rates, Asher said. In fact, according to Asher, chronic loneliness is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes and more dangerous than physical inactivity or obesity. If patients surround themselves with positive and supportive friends and relatives, however, they can increase their longevity and quality of life, Asher said.

2. Tailored, moderate exercise

Exercise offers a myriad of benefits to any individual, but may be even more valuable to cancer patients and survivors, Asher said. Unfortunately, fewer than 50 percent of cancer survivors achieve their pre-cancer level of exercise, and many patients never talk about physical activity with their physicians. At the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, exercise specialists design workouts formulated for each patient’s abilities. Asher suggests that just like the benefits of a support system, exercise may improve the quality and quantity of life.

3. Get enough sleep

Americans often view sleep as a luxury and rest is one of the first things to be sacrificed if time doesn’t permit. Asher said that not getting enough sleep has serious consequences, including chronic illness and possibly an increased risk in cancer. Multiple studies have found that nightshift workers have a higher percentage of breast, colon and prostate cancer, as well as cognitive issues, and a higher risk of obesity and physical limitations. Half of all cancer survivors have some form of insomnia. The Cedars-Sinai Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program works with these survivors to determine the cause of insomnia and then takes tactical steps toward managing these issues.

According to Dr. Asher, incorporating these 3 steps into a daily routine can help to improve overall quality of life as well as improves chance at survival.  For more information, visit the Cedars-Sinai website.

(Source:  Top 3 Tips for Survivorship)

Camps for Kids & Families Touched by Cancer

 

Attending one of the many camps created specifically for anyone touched by cancer can be a wonderful way to connect with others who share similar experiences.  While some camps are just for children (or young adults) who have been diagnosed with cancer or have survived a diagnosis of cancer; others are for their siblings; and still others are designed for the entire family to attend.  There are even camps for children who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer.  Creating new friendships, sharing adventures, mastering new skills or simply taking a break from cancer are a few of many benefits these camps can offer.

To find a camp that fits your specific needs, check out these incredible resources that list many different cancer camps.  Most camps have oncology doctors and nurses on staff to  provide medical care to campers when necessary.  Additionally, many of these camps are offered FREE of charge to participants.

Ped-Onc Resource Center which lists camps by state coupled with a short description of each camp.

Cancer.Net also provides a listing of different camp and retreat options for kids and families touched by cancer.

Allen’s Guide offers a listing a camps that specialize in oncology.

Also talk to your oncology nurse or social worker.  They may be able to suggest additional camps and/or retreats that may be beneficial for you.

If you’ve been to a camp that you loved, please comment below.  Knowledge is power… let’s share the power...

“How We Survived Cancer” – 7 Insights from Cancer Insiders

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This post was written by guest blogger Greg Pierce.  Greg is a 3x cancer survivor, American Cancer Society Hero of Hope speaker and Social Media Community Manager for WhatNext.com.   WhatNext.com is a fantastic support site where anyone touched by cancer can connect with others on a similar path.  WhatNext.com makes it easy to share and gain knowledge from each other’s experiences as well as connect with American Cancer Society resources.  Greg can be reached at greg@whatnext.com.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer then you may feel shock, anger, sadness, denial, or confusion. Your loved ones are rallying around you, telling you to “fight!” It may help to have some suggestions from cancer survivors on just how to begin this fight. Below are seven ways that you can fight cancer inspired by cancer survivors themselves.

1. Relationship with Doctors and Medical Team

The relationship you will have with your doctor and medical team will be very intimate during treatment. Survivors that established relationships of trust with their team said that it was one of the main things that helped them survive cancer. From a medical perspective it is important, but it is often equally as important for your mental and emotional health.

2. Relationship with Caregiver

There may be a lot of strain put on your relationship with your caregiver during cancer and treatment. Often there is a mutual understanding of trust, respect, and gratitude, but sometimes it is easy to get frustrated or exhausted and take your stress out on one another. Survivors that have maintained a loving relationship with their caregiver (whether is a spouse, sibling, parent, or friend) have said that their caregiver was not only their main source of support but their number one cheerleader.

3. Family and Friends

A lot of survivors leaned on family and friends to help them survive cancer. Loved ones can be helpful during treatment from preparing meals, giving you rides, helping you around the house, taking your mind off things, going to appointments with you, distracting you from treatment, and acting as close confidants when you feel down. Survivors that have identified these steadfast loved ones in their lives have attributed a lot of their survival to those people.

4. Health and Nutrition

Some cancer survivors say that physical health and nutrition is not only a way to feel stronger during treatment, but it is also a concrete way to help yourself feel happier and more positive. Basic ways that survivors have tried to maintain their health include maintaining an exercise routine that it is approved by their doctor such as walking, stretching, swimming, and gentle yoga, working to get the nutrition they need by consulting their medical team about what foods are right for them, and sitting back and resting when their body was telling them to slow down.

5. Practical & Personal Methods of Coping

For you, surviving cancer may simply include finding your own personal or practical ways to get through days and treatment. Practical tips that have helped survivors include taking a notebook to doctor appointments to write down information they want to remember, keeping all insurance and medical related documents in a common folder, and packing a “chemo” bag for treatment. Personal ways may include taking up a new hobby, listening to soothing music during treatment, or it may be a new mindset to think positively or gain new perspective.

6. Support System

A support system can come in different forms. A common form is the people that are already around you; however, branching off from that direct source, there are local support groups, counselors, and online social networks. Not every form is right for everyone. Survivors say that they had to find the form of support that was right for them.

7. Help from the Community

A common regret that survivors share is that they did not accept the help that was offered them. It is possible that unexpected people will band together when they find out you have cancer. Survivors say that you should let them help you. It may be overwhelming or even feel intrusive in the beginning, but by letting these people help you, you will empower them in contributing to your fight. Help from the community may be from your church, work place, school, or other organizations that raise money and awareness for cancer.

These insights from inside survivors on your relationship with your medical team, caregiver, family and friends, support group, community, and your personal and physical ways of coping may help you to personally survive cancer, but ultimately you must find the best ways for you. Try stepping out of your shell this week and letting these avenues of support fall into place. What things do you think are going to help you the most? What things do you see that are already helping you fight cancer?

FREE Kit to Help Manage Side Effects from Chemotherapy

A sample of an Adult Comfort Kit

A sample of an Adult Comfort Kit

We all need a little love once in a while… and if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are receiving chemotherapy, you deserve a little extra lovin’. That’s what Peppermint & Ginger Comfort Kits are all about…

 

Peppermint & Ginger Comfort Kits are FREE kits created to help provide comfort and help alleviate some of the more common side effects caused by chemotherapy.  An “Adult Kit” contains peppermint and ginger teas (which can help ease nausea), a soft bristle toothbrush, alcohol free mouth wash and toothpaste and lip balm (to help ease oral side effects experienced as a result of treatment), warm socks and a relaxation CD.  When possible, P&G adds in other goodies as well.  Their “Pediatric Kit” contains hot chocolate instead of teas and it’s contents will vary depending on the age of the patient.

 

If you know of a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy or if you yourself are a patient and would like one of these comforting kits, please click HERE to request one.

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