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Easing the Burden of a Cancer Diagnosis
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15th May, 2009 | Source : Diane Blum – Cancer Care

“Who will take care of my family?” “Do I need to tell my employer?” “How can I help my children understand?” “Will I have enough resources to see me and my family through this?”

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, much of the focus, especially at the beginning, is on learning about what kind of cancer it is and what treatment options are available. Yet cancer is accompanied by a host of other, non-medical, emotional and practical concerns that may be more overwhelming than the diagnosis itself.

Since its inception nearly 65 years ago, CancerCare has helped millions of people confront the nonmedical challenges presented by a cancer diagnosis. A national nonprofit organization, CancerCare offers free support services to anyone in the U.S. affected by cancer. Our services, provided by a full-time staff of professional oncology social workers, include counseling, support groups, educational programs and publications, and referrals to additional assistance – and all are offered completely free of charge.

CancerCare is also one of fewer than a dozen U.S. organizations that provides direct financial assistance to people with cancer—which CancerCare has been doing since our founding in 1944. In the last year alone we distributed a total of $4 million to more than 21,000 people with cancer to help cover treatment-related costs like transportation, child care, home care, and medications for side effects. Often, this assistance makes a critical difference between getting to a treatment appointment – and not being able to afford getting there at all.

Spiraling costs of cancer treatments coupled with these uncertain economic times have driven a rising demand for our services. And a growing number of the more than 1,000 people who contact us each week for help through our toll-free number (1 -800-813-HOPE) are individuals who have insurance coverage but cannot afford the cost of their co-payments for treatment.

For example, we got a call recently from “Mary,” whose husband was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. She told us that his health insurance policy required a co-payment of nearly $975 every two weeks for the two medications he was prescribed. She confided to us that his hospital bills had drained them of their life savings and that she would not tell him what his medications actually cost, fearing that if he knew how expensive they were, he would stop taking them altogether.

The increasing financial burdens faced by people like Mary and her husband led us to establish the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation last year. Our new foundation helps people who have health insurance and have been diagnosed with certain types of cancer* to cover the cost of their copayments for chemotherapy and other cancer drugs. *(Diagnoses currently covered are breast, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers; head and neck cancers; and glioblastoma.) Patients must meet certain criteria, including having private insurance or Medicare that covers a portion of the prescribed treatment.) Mary and her husband are among the thousands of people we’ve assisted to date with financial help to cover their co-payment costs.

The Co-Pay Foundation is just the latest chapter in CancerCare’s long history of helping patients and their families cope with cancer. To find out all the ways CancerCare assists people facing cancer, call us at 1-800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit For information about our Co-Payment Assistance Foundation, call 1-866-55-COPAY or visit

Diane Blum, MSW, is Executive Director of CancerCare, based in New York City.



1 Comment
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Posted by J.D. Grozenflatz on 27th Aug 2010 13:50
Tremendous Read
Yet again, Cancer Care delivers and unflinching gripping account, breaking down barriers and crashing through stereotypes of the cancer industry...streamlining finance and delivering unparalleled resource to those afflicted and those loved ones of inhabiting atmospherices including those in underlying positions.
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