A good way to begin your search for help and support is to start with a fresh spiral notebook. Create a title for your notebook and label it. You may want to choose, "Help and Support for My Cancer Journey" or "Resource Search".
On the first few pages of your notebook, try to list all the kinds of help and support that you need to help you through your cancer journey or to make it possible for you to have cancer treatment.
One way to go about creating the list of things you need, is to begin to make a list of all the things you are worried about, especially financially or logistically.
Tip: If you are having a hard time thinking of some of the things you might need, try exploring the websites of some of the organizations that help people with cancer. (See Resource Branch) That way you can see what some of the services and help from different organizations are offered. Looking through the websites in this way may help spark an idea of something you realize you need or are likely to need. Then you can add those things to your list.
Some of items in your "List of Needs" might include things like:
- Who will watch my grandchildren when I go for treatment?
- I'm concerned about not having enough energy to shop for groceries and to cook for a few weeks after my surgery.
- I don't have any more sick days from my job. What about income for rent and the bills and food?
- What if I don't feel well enough to drive back and forth from radiation therapy every day? Who can I ask to drive me? Is there any help out there for getting rides to treatment or for paying for gas?
- I have insurance that pays for my medications but how am I going to afford all the co-pays?
- I need to stay at the cancer center hospital for treatment for five days and then have out patient appointments twice a day for another week. It is over 200 miles to the cancer center from my home. Is there any help to pay for a hotel or a place to stay for my relatives and me to stay while I am there?
- I need some medical equipment to use at home such as a hospital bed.
- The doctor says I will probably lose my hair from the chemo. I would like a wig to use until it grows back.
- What about a breast prosthesis? I checked into one of those and they cost a lot of money. Do any organizations help with that?
- I need some gas money because I have to drive 50 miles each way to get radiation therapy five days a week for six weeks. How will I ever afford that?
Tip: Young relatives of cancer patients often struggle to find ways to help and support elders during the cancer experience. They often want so badly to help but don't know how. Help them to help you and to feel included in your cancer journey. You can ask them to type and print out your "list of needs" for you on the computer. Remind them to use a clear large "font" size like "Arial 14."
Working on a list in your notebook can be a first step to getting help but it can also be emotionally and physically draining. Sometimes it's hard to even know what you need and what you can ask for. Don't get discouraged. It's a learning process. You can add new needs to your list as they come up.
Tip: Remember to take frequent breaks and also consult with your family, social worker, and/or Patient Advocate for help while developing your list of needs.
Below is a summary of things to do to get ready to search for resources:
- Talk with your family, friends, social worker or patient advocate about your needs and the family's needs.
- Get a notebook to keep all of your information in one place so that it is easy to find and keep track of your process.
- Make a list of all the things you can think of that you and your family will need help with before, during, and after cancer treatment.