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January 2014

Assistance Programs Aid Breast Cancer Patients

From time to time, we all need a helping hand. That's even more the case if you've been diagnosed with breast cancer. A patient assistance program may ease difficulties related to the disease. Unfortunately, many women don't know about these services.

 

 

Caring for your needs

 

Patient assistance programs care for the cancer patient's many needs—educational, emotional, and financial. Many of the services they provide are free. If there is a fee, it's usually minimal.

Some assistance programs offer classes or lectures for people with cancer and their families. Others connect patients with support groups, online communities, or group counseling. Additional support services may include:

  • Financial aid or advice

  • Transportation to and from your doctor's office or treatment facility

  • Home care

  • Physician referrals

  • Lodging assistance

  • Treatment for depression or anxiety

  • Appearance-related products, such as wigs, hats, and breast forms

One recent study showed the usefulness of assistance programs among a small group of women with breast cancer. More than three-fourths of the study participants who reached out to such a program found that it helped. Many of them received much-needed information and emotional support.

Finding a program near you

Many patient assistance programs are available in your community. To locate one near you, start by asking members of your health care team. Your doctor, nurses, or social workers may be able to direct you to a program. You may also find information at a library or through your local government.

You can also check online. The American Cancer Society's website—www.cancer.org—provides links to various support services, such as Internet-based education classes and communities. CancerCare's online portal (www.cancercare.org) can connect you to services nationwide.

When looking for a program that meets your needs, it's important to ask the right questions. Here are some tips to aid you in your search.

  • Before calling, jot down your questions in advance. Take notes during the conversation.

  • Request the name of the person you are speaking with. You can then call back if you have any follow-up questions.

  • Ask about the application process, including how to apply, what the eligibility requirements are, and how long it will take.

Social Support Beneficial, Too

Social support can be a boon for women with breast cancer. One recent study assessed the physical well-being and mental health of nearly 1,000 women newly diagnosed with the disease. Those who had good social support reported a better quality of life 2 months after being diagnosed. 

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by a cancer diagnosis. Click here for ways to cope.

 

Online resources

American Cancer Society

CancerCare

National Cancer Institute – How to Find Resources in Your Own Community if You Have Cancer