The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines cancer survivors as people living with a history of cancer – that includes everyone from diagnosis through the remainder of life. The NCI estimates there are approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States. By 2026, the NCI estimates that the population of cancer survivors will exceed 20 million, due in large part to earlier detection and more effective treatment options available today.
As June is National Cancer Survivor Month, there is no better time than now to put the focus on free resources for cancer survivors and their families:
Free Employment Assistance
Cancer and Careers offers free employment-related help specifically for cancer patients. This site tackles issues regarding working during treatment, networking with others, and finding a new job. Get free online advice and resume review from a career coach by visiting the link above.
Free Fertility Assistance
Ferring Pharmaceuticals, in partnership with Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, has developed the Heart Beat program to help ease some of the financial burden of fertility preservation medications. This free fertility medication program is available to women in the US who have been diagnosed with cancer and have not had chemotherapy within the past six months. To get immediate assistance, please call toll free (888) 347-3415 or visit the link for more information.
Free Peer and Professional Support
The American Cancer Society Survivors Network offers free space to create an online journal, share photos, and give and receive support from an online community that understands the cancer journey because they are living it, too. This peer support network, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, has very active forums and discussion groups for patients and caregivers alike.
Imerman Angels offers free peer support for cancer patients and their families via telephone, email, video chat, and face-to-face options. Per the website, “These 1–on–1 relationships inspire hope and offer the chance to ask personal questions and receive support from someone who is uniquely familiar with the experience.” To find out more or request a mentor, please visit the link above.
Friend for Life Cancer Support is a network of cancer survivors who provide free one-on-one support to cancer patients and their families. Matches are customized based on similar diagnoses, treatment, as well as life circumstances and values. To submit a request for help, call (866) 374-3634 or visit the link provided.
A cancer diagnosis brings with it some of the most difficult challenges a person can face.
The American Cancer Society has identified many short- and long-term effects including “physical, psychosocial, practical, spiritual, and information challenges that can begin during active treatment and persist post-treatment (long-term effects) and occur months or years after treatment ends (late effects).”
The goal of treatment is, of course, to cure cancer, and if that cannot be achieved then to prolong life and provide quality care for as long as possible. Research shows that cancer patients are living longer and with that comes an even greater need for survivor support programs.
According to Rebecca Siegel, MPH, lead author of Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Statistics, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, “Although there has been considerable progress in reducing cancer incidence in the United States, the number of cancer survivors continues to increase due to the aging and growth of the population and improvements in survival rates. As a result, it is increasingly important to understand the unique medical and psychosocial needs of survivors and be aware of resources that can assist patients, caregivers, and health care providers in navigating the various phases of cancer survivorship.”
Cancer need not be faced alone. With a wealth of resources and a growing community of spirited survivors, cancer is a challenge that patients and their families can fight together.
In addition to the programs described above, please see our links to more free financial assistance programs and no-cost counseling services for cancer patients and families. Help is available for free. If you cannot locate the program you need, please get in touch; we are here to help you get the help you need.