Sometimes the most difficult aspect of dealing with cancer or any other advanced-stage illness is surrendering to the reality of it and accepting it as a very real part of your life. By no means does this mean quitting – every person that is diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness has to choose for themselves how they are going to approach treatment and the degree to which they are going to fight. But as with grief in the face of all sorts of loss, every patient needs to go through anger, denial and a cascade of other emotions before finally facing their diagnosis as their new normal.
For many, it is only when they have gotten to this point that they are able to look around and see all of the remarkable patient and caregiver support services – from shopping for groceries to walking the dogs – that are available to help them deal with their day-to-day needs. When you are willing to ask for and accept this kind of help, you free yourself up to focus on what is truly important – getting better and spending time with those who are most important to you. Below is a list of some of the most useful, and most appreciated, of these resources for patients.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the New England or soon-to-be in the Greater Philadelphia area, you can use this one-stop resource for all of the services you or your caregiver may need. Wellist is for patients and their families to find practical daily support. From meal delivery to pet care, they connect patients to local services that help make their life easier. A Wellist is where you save and manage your personalized list of service vendors. You can return to this page at any point to build and edit your list of services.
Savor Health and other organizations like it are dedicated to making the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers easier and less stressful by providing meals. Savor Health’s approach keeps the specific nutritional needs of cancer patients in mind, while others are focused simply on eliminating the time and effort that is needed to shop for and prepare meals, freeing caregivers and ensuring that patients and those supporting them are eating healthy, delicious meals.
Though these services are available to anybody that wants to minimize their time running errands, they can be tremendous resources for patients and caregivers alike. Companies like Peapod will not only provide tremendous convenience, but will even create shopping lists designed for the specific nutritional needs of patients with advanced stage illnesses.
Programs like the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, as well as community-based organizations offered by religious organizations and national air travel programs like the National Patient Travel Center provide patients with rides and flights to and from their medical appointments and treatment centers.
Many cancer patients live in areas that are not accessible to the technologically advanced care that they need, and are therefore required to travel to where their treatment is available. Recognizing that hotel stays for patients and their caregivers represent an additional expense, Extended Stay America has partnered with the American Cancer Society to establish a program called the Hotel Keys of Hope™. The program has recently increased the number of free room nights that it has donated to 100,000.
Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit that has collaborated with over 1,200 maid services across the United States and Canada to provide house cleaning services for women being treated for any type of cancer. The group and others like it recognize the time and energy required to keep a home clean and offer to provide the service to those facing advanced stage illness.
Our pets make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives, but they are also a big responsibility. From taking them to their veterinary appointments when they are sick to walking and grooming, the energy needed to take care of them can be too much for a cancer patient to deal with. There are many organizations, including Angels Making a Difference that volunteer to provide these and many other services to help families dealing with advanced illness address these every day needs and continue having their companion animals in their lives.
Many patients dealing with advanced-stage illness are shocked by how quickly their medical bills can add up. Adding these necessary and life-prolonging expenses to their already-existing household bills can quickly deplete families’ life savings, but there are services like Fifth Season Financial that are specifically created to provide solutions to ease the burden.
In addition to medical and economic stress, those dealing with advanced stage illness are often faced with a number of legal concerns. These may include workplace issues, insurance claims, and establishing patient directives and living wills. There are a number of legal organizations that provide both information and free legal counsel and advocacy to those in need.
When most people think of cancer patients, the image of bald heads caused by chemotherapy is one of the first that comes to mind, but there are a number of organizations dedicated to providing free wigs, special shampoos, beautiful head coverings and other beauty products and services to those who are currently under treatment or recovering from treatment. National organizations such as Look Good Feel Better provide resources across the nation, but you can also call your local salon and ask whether they provide or know of professionals closer to home that provide a similar service.
Many spas and massage centers offer massage therapy that is specifically designed to provide pain relief and relaxation to those who have been diagnosed with cancer. These services do require special training and certifications, so before booking an appointment check to see whether a facility has therapists trained in Oncology Esthetics or Oncology Massage Therapy. A good example of a venue that has made the effort to provide this service is Mary’s Place By the Sea.
Relieve financial stress with the Funds For Living Program.