Overwhelmed? Lost? No clue where to start?
There are things you can do- so let’s start with the basics.
First, stop and take a deep breath. I know your emotions are running ragged- your mind is probably chasing around in a squirrel cage .That’s okay. However, if you want to help your loved ones, you need to stop and breath deep and start thinking. You can take time out in a little while to scream and cry – but today , you have job to do.
Let’s begin by figuring out what you need.
First look realistically at your routine budget. do you have any flexible funds? It is better to try NOT to use your routine budget, if it can be helped. Once you begin doing that , you can often loose everything by falling behind and going deeper and deeper in debt.
What are your initial needs. Are you going for testing , or will you be hospitalized immediately? Are you going for treatment daily , or staying away at a long distance facility?
What exactly are your needs? Help with transportation- gas , car rental, airfare? Do you need a place to stay while your testing is done? Or are you going to be in-patient for surgery or chemotherapy?
Try to define these before hand. it is often hard to know? If that is the case , ask questions of your doctor or the case worker. Most hospitals have a patient advocate who can walk you through this process. often the office is called Patient services.
Something of import to remember – help from various agencies often is available in bits and pieces- funds come a little at a time- each new procedure will generate new funds. So keep good records – with a column for when paperwork is due to be turned in – for grants etc.
Begin a notebook- I keep a ringbinder , with a page in a plastic sleeve for separate things- a “to do” list- a page for contributions received- so we can write thank you’s ….keep receipts for gas, food and lodging in this binder. Write down names of Doctor’s , PA’s and nurses- often these are your best contact people
Stress affects your memory, so use the tools at hand. Write things down , use your I-phone – whatever works for you.
Be sure that your loved ones have written down their budget while they are feeling well, so that you can help if needed when they feel badly.
Do an internet search – using the type of cancer- often the non-profit associations for that type of cancer have funding available. Then start locally- ask your GP- your local cancer support group- the red cross. Many communities have a special resource group- that pulls help agencies together under one roof.
American Cancer society have specialists called patient navigators who deal with specific regions. They have contacts to aid in housing, transportation , etc Most of the larger metro areas have what are called Partnerships with the ACS- giving reduced or free room rates for those doing outpatient procedures and their family members. In hospital there are often compassionate family rooms- $10-$15 a night- some will have laundry facilities and a sitting room – some will not.
Many hospitals have a pastors group who have short term funds available that allows them to help with meals for a few days- ask. If you are active in a church , approach you pastor or women’s group- they often have some funds available to help with meals , or members that live in the city you go to who are willing to bring in meals to your family.
There are also several pilot associations who will fly patients who are more than two hours away to and from treatment.
I will take an evening soon and write up a list of contact numbers. Here’s hoping this has helped a little.