I'm always learning about new resources that can help me and others throughout our cancer journeys. I am amazed how many organizations exist today that are dedicated to various aspects of cancer -- everything from research to financial and from providing support and if needed, grief counseling. This blog will hopefully introduce you to a couple of new resources that may help you, a family member or friend.
The first organization I recently discovered is the Animal Cancer Foundation. My daughter's mother-in-law contacted me about a tragic situation. One of her dogs became extremely ill on Thanksgiving Day. The dog was taken to an emergency vet clinic where after hours of exams and testing, five-year-old Ellie was given a blood transfusion followed by surgery to remove her pancreas. However, the news was not good. While the surgery went well, there were remaining tumors on her liver as well as one near a major blood vessel that could not be removed. Ellie still needed another blood transfusion that night. Her tumors were malignant -- the dog had terminal cancer.
The request I received was to try and find an organization or resource that could help the family with some of the financial burdens they had already faced and would be facing as a result of Ellie's diagnosis. I immediately called the American Cancer Society at its toll-free number: 1-800-ACS-2345. This number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In turn, ACS gave me the number for the Animal Cancer Foundation. (1-877-448-3223 or www.acfoundation.org) I spoke with the organization's Executive Director, Barbara Cohen. After hearing what was needed, Barbara later emailed me a list of approximately 10 organizations that provide various resources. While each group or organization may offer specific services, it would be necessary to read through the information given and determine if help was possible. But, at least, Ellie's family would be able to have resources to check out -- there was, at least, some hope that assistance may be offered.
In a different direction, for those who may need assistance paying medical expenses or who cannot afford items such as a wig (when undergoing chemo and losing one's hair) there is MedGift, a non-profit organization founded by Diem Brown. She was only 23-years-old when diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This reality TV personality and currently a freelance AP reporter, discovered the need for an organization that could help others with "gifts." When registering at www.medgift.com, one can ask for help with such things as hospital bills, childcare or wigs. Besides the aforementioned items, those signing onto MedGift can also ask for more personal, non-monetary gifts such as prayers or visits. Brown calls her program "the first ever patient gift registry" and it is set up like a bridal or baby shower registry. She continues her fight with cancer, just having started chemotherapy and was a participant in this past September's Stand Up to Cancer Telethon.
As I noted above, I had direct contact with ACF and was extremely impressed with the quick turn-around my request was given. Although I have not utilized MedGift, I read about it in a recent issue of Living with Cancer and found the premise to be interesting while also offering great possibilities.
Cancer survivors and caregivers are always seeking out new resources. It is my hope that, if necessary, you will find help via one of the above groups or any other other organizations / resources listed on Marilyn's Byline.