BCCA does not endorse or carry responsibility for any of these companies and their products/services. Please consult your medical professional for any questions with regards to treatment implications. This page is a resource guide of assistance outlets beyond the program services that BCCA provides.
Questions to Ask
Download our Questions to Ask Guide
Being educated and informed will help you make the best decisions about your cancer treatment. Get all the information you can as early as possible concerning your evaluation, treatment, and possible side effects. The sooner you know about side effects and possible treatments, the more likely you are to protect yourself against them, or manage them more effectively.
Your doctor and nurse are your best sources of information, but you must remember to ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question. Don’t be afraid to ask anything that is on your mind. To make the most of your opportunities to learn from your health care providers, read as much as you can and make a list of questions before each appointment. Also, ask family, friends, and your support team to help you remember the questions. These approaches will help you talk more effectively with your doctor or nurse. Finally, you or your caregiver should consider taking notes during your visit to ensure you remember what you learned.
The following are some questions, grouped by topic, which you may wish to ask your nurse or physician:
• Do you typically treat patients with my diagnosis?
• What stage is my cancer?
• Is there anything unique about my cancer that makes my prognosis better or worse?
• Who else is a specialist for this cancer to GET a second opinion?
• What alternatives to chemo or radiation are there? What holistic options exist?
• What is the goal of treatment?
• To cure my cancer or stop it from growing?
• What are my treatment options?
• How can each treatment option help me achieve my goal of therapy?
• What risks or potential side effects are associated with each treatment?
• What research studies (“clinical trials”) are available?
• Are there any clinical trials that are right for me?
• How long will I receive treatment, how often, and where?
• How will it be given?
• How will I know if the treatment is working?
• How might a disruption in my chemotherapy dose or timing affect my results?
• How and when will I be able to tell whether the treatment is working?
• What are the names of all the drugs I will be taking?
• Can I talk with another of your patients who has received this treatment?
• Are there any resources or Web sites you recommend for more information?
• What types of lab tests will I need?
• Will I need x-rays and scans?
• Can you explain the results of my complete blood count (CBC)?
• Are there tests for the genetic make-up of my cancer?
• Will I benefit from having my cancer evaluated for its genetic make-up?
• How frequently will I get the tests?
Side Effects of Treatment
• What possible side effects should I prepare for?
• When might they start?
• Will they get better or worse as my treatment goes along?
• How can I prepare for them or lessen their impact?
• Are there treatments that can help relieve the side effects? What are they? Do you usually recommend or prescribe them?
• Which risks are most serious?
• Will I require blood transfusions? Why?
• How can I best monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
Protecting Against Infection
• Will my type of chemotherapy put me at risk for a low white blood cell count and infection?
• Can I help protect myself against infection right from the start of chemotherapy, instead of waiting until problems develop?
• Am I at special risk for infection?
• What are the signs of infection?
• How serious is an infection?
• How long will I be at risk for infection?
• What should I do if I have a fever?
• How are infections treated?
• How will my cancer treatment affect my usual activities?
• Will I be able to work?
• Will I need to stay in the hospital?
• Will I need someone to help me at home?
• Will I need help taking care of my kids?
• Are there any activities I should avoid during my chemotherapy?
What to Expect After Treatment
• What happens after I complete my treatment?
• How can I best continue to monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
• What kind of lab tests will I need?
• How frequently should I get those lab tests?
• What types of x-rays and scans will I need?
• How often do I need to come in for checkups?
• When will you know if I am cured?
• What happens if my disease comes back?
American Cancer Society
- 800. ACS.2345
Location Specific Assistance: Wigs, Transportation, Support Groups, Mentorship Program, and Health Education
24 Hours Information Line: 1.800.227.2345
Patient Access Network Foundation
Maximum Award Level: $7,500 per year
- Patient must have Medicare insurance coverage
- The medication must treat the disease directly
- Patient must reside and receive treatment in the United States
- Patient’s income must fall below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level
Patient Advocate Foundation
Services: Case Management Services, Co-Payment Program, Resource Center
Cancer Care, Inc.
Services: Transportation Assistance for Men and Women with Breast Cancer
Patient Services, Incorporated
Services: Co-Payment Assistance
The C.H.A.I.N Fund, Inc.
Services: Provide a portion of direct payment of bills such as mortgage payments, rent payments, utility payments, doctor visit co-pays, and prescription co-payments
Fifth Season Financial Corp.
Services: Provides loans to people living with advanced cancer by using their insurance policy as collateral
Where There’s A Need, Inc.
Services: Provides hair scarves for women who have experienced hair loss due to chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments.
Resource Centers for Medication Assistance:
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
Kristy Lasch Miracle Foundation
Services: Provides financial assistance for medical expenses to women under age 30 living with breast cancer
Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund
Services: Co-payment assistance, rent/mortgage assistance, transportation, car insurance, repairs, and groceries for patients ages 18-40
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Services: Provides various services to people in need, including food programs, emergency financial assistance, emergency transportation, rent/mortgage assistance.
HUD U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Services: Assistance with housing and or housing vouchers
Services: Helps cancer patients and their families find lodging near treatment centers
National Association of Hospitality Houses
Services: Provide lodging and support services to families and their loved ones who are receiving treatment away from home
Air Car Alliance
Resource Center: A central listing of free transportation services provided b volunteer pilots and charitable organizations
Air Charity Network
Services: Coordinates free air transportation for those in need
Angel Flight Samaritans
Services: Long distance travel for people with cancer and their families in need of travel
Corporate Angel Network
Services: Arranges free air transportation for people with cancer traveling to treatment using empty seats on corporate jets
Patient Airlift Services (PALS)
Services: Network of volunteer pilots who provides people with chronic illness air transport services at no cost
We Clean 4 You
- http://www.weclean4you.com or (888) 572-MAID
- Patients apply at http://www.cleaningforareason.org
Services: Recently partnered for Cleaning with a Reason – a non-profit international organization that strives to help women that are battling cancer by teaming up with professional cleaning companies that offer free house cleaning. We Clean 4 You cleans houses throughout Montgomery County, Texas.
We are excited to announce that we are now able to offer a FREE DENTAL CLEANING PROCEDURE to all iGoPink patients in Houston and surrounding areas at the 8 locations of GMS Dental Centers of Excellence through our new partnership with GMS and the GMS Foundation.To make an appointment or for more information contact Darlene Abdouch:
E-mail Darlene at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713.580.4726.
DiagnosticWorks is a nationwide company providing low cost, affordable radiology services, such as Mammograms, X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs, etc. for those women who are uninsured or underinsured, ensuring that all women can beat this disease with early detection!
Visit DiagnosticWorks.com or call 1-855-967-4669 for details.
- Patient Advocate Foundation
- Telephone: 800-532-5274
- Website: www.patientadvocate.org
- Cancer Care, Inc.
- Telephone: 1-800-813-4673
- Website: www.cancercare.org/get_help/assistance
- The C.H.A.I.N. Fund
- Telephone: 203-530-3439
- Website: www.thechainfund.com
- Patient Access Network Foundation
- Telephone: 866-316-7263
- Website: www.panfoundation.org
- Patient Services, Incorporated
- Telephone: 800-366-7741
- Website: www.uneedpsi.org
- Patient Advocate Foundation Co-Pay Relief Program
- Telephone: 1-866-512-3861
- Website: www.copays.org
- Website: www.medicare.gov
MEDICATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
- Negotiate with doctors, hospitals, and providers before receiving treatment.
LINE OF CREDIT
- Fifth Season Financial Corp.
- Telephone: 866-459-1271
- Website: www.fifthseasonfinancial.com
CONVERTING LIFE INSURANCE POLICY INTO CASH
- Patient Advocate Foundation
- Under the “money matters” item is a list of companies assisting in converting life insurance policies into cash.
- Telephone: 800-532-5274
- Website: www.patientadvocate.org/resources.php?p=16
Transportation & Housing
- American Cancer Society
- Telephone: 800-ACS-2345
- Website: www.cancer.org
- Your Hospital
- Senior Citizens Vans
- Air Charity Network
- Telephone: 877-621-7177
- Website: www.aircharitynetwork.org
- Mercy Medical Airlift
- Telephone: 800-296-1217
- Website: www.mercymedical.org
- Corporate Angel Network
- Telephone 866-328-1313
- Website: www.corporateangelnetwork.org
- National Patient Travel Helpline
- Telephone: 800-296-1217
- Website: www.PatientTravel.org
- Ronald McDonald House Charities
- Telephone: 630-623-7048
- Website: www.rmhc.org
- American Cancer Society Hope Lodge
- Telephone: 800-277-2345
- Website: www.cancer.org/hopelodge
- National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses
- Telephone: 800-542-9730
- Website: www.nahhh.org
- Joe’s House
- Telephone: 877-563-7468
- Website: www.joeshouse.org
- Ask Relatives or Friend
IF YOU HAVE INSURANCE:
- Contact your insurance company to review your coverage for cancer treatment.
- Every doctor’s office will ask if you have insurance. Always have your insurance card available. Before the procedure, have the doctor’s office confirm with your insurance company that you will be covered.
- Many times, an insurance company will deny a claim because they feel the cost of the procedure is not “customary and reasonable”. This should not be an issue if the doctor is a “preferred provider” (i.e., an approved provider listed under your PPO or HMO). However, if the doctor is not a preferred provider, it will be necessary for you to negotiate a payment standard with the doctor’s office that both the doctor and the insurance company acknowledge to be “reasonable and customary”.
- Dealing with the insurance company is one of the most stressful issues you will confront when going through treatment. If you have a spouse, relative, or friend who will take on the burden, it will be of great assistance. Once you begin treatment, you may not be able to handle these types of matters.
- Claims should be submitted promptly.
- Often claims are denied because of incorrect coding or information is missing from the doctor.
- Try to postpone payment to the medical provider until the claim is resolved by your insurance company.
- If the claim is denied, resubmit it along with a request for review.
- To reverse a decision, ask to speak to a supervisor who may have the authority to do so.
- If necessary, obtain a letter of medical necessity from your doctor regarding treatment.
- If the claim continues to be denied, seek assistance from the consumer services division of your state’s insurance department.
- If all else fails, consider legal action.
- Ask your insurance agent if you have disability insurance coverage. If so, review the requirements for obtaining the benefit. It may be advisable to have an attorney process your disability claim.
IF YOU ARE NOT INSURED:
- Speak with your doctor to determine if the charges can be reduced.
- Contact the resources noted under the FINANCIAL HELP section.
- If you are over 65, you may qualify for Medicare.
- If your cancer is disabling, you are under 65, and have been employed, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Once approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you also qualify for Medicare Insurance two years later, even if you are under the age of 65.
- Every state or county may have programs for which you qualify if you are low income or unemployed.
Social Security Disability
Many cancers along with their treatment are debilitating and may preclude employment. If you have been employed in the past, you may qualify for Social Security Disability even if you are under the age of 65. The process to file a claim requires completing a lengthy application and submitting all medical records.
If you have followed the procedures described in the Insurance section, you should have a complete file including doctor records, and all of your medical results. It is recommended you have a full medical records package to submit with your application. Because the Social Security Administration will request these records and will take no action until the records are received, it is in your best interest to take on the task of developing a complete medical file for each doctor.
Social Security will assist you in completing your application. However, many times, you may not have a complete package. If you have a computer, the application can be completed on line. This may be easier since it gives you sufficient time to collect the required information and can be completed at your convenience. It is a good idea to print each section as you complete it as you cannot go back to certain sections. The criteria for Social Security Disability should be reviewed carefully to make certain you qualify for the benefit. Many times cancer patients feel they can work; however, they find they cannot.
The majority of new Social Security Disability claims are denied; however during the appeals process many claims are approved. If your claim is denied, an attorney should be consulted to assist in perfecting the appeal. The attorney’s fee for this assistance are capped under federal law
The process can take from six months to many years depending upon the information you provide to Social Security. The department will take on the burden of obtaining your information; however, your agent may be assigned many cases. Any information you can give them to assist in expediting the process will speed up your application.
Benefits will be paid once you are approved to the date you filed the application. While undergoing treatment, the last thing you will want to do is deal with the Social Security Administration. To the extent someone can assist you, it will remove a burden and permit you to concentrate on treatment and healing. You should verify any information contained herein with counsel or the Social Security Administration as the above is not a legal opinion and guidelines do change. For more information visit the web site www.ssa.gov/disability.