A patient navigator is a professional who helps cancer patients get the quality care they deserve. From coordinating treatment to assisting with financial issues, patient navigators are available to make the journey easier. These experts often offer their services for free from within national cancer support groups as a special program.
Patient navigation isn’t brand new. The concept grew out of the findings of the 1989 American Cancer Society National Hearings on Cancer in the Poor. These experts found that:
- Low income patients encounter more barriers in seeking and obtaining cancer care and often do not seek care if they cannot afford it
- Lower income patients endure greater pain and suffering from cancer than other Americans
- Lower income Americans and their families often make extraordinary personal sacrifices to obtain and pay for care.
- Fatalism about cancer is prevalent among lower income patients and may prevent them from seeking care.
- Current cancer educational schemes are tone deaf and insensitive for many lower income patients, rendering the programs largely irrelevant
The first patient navigation system was established in New York City, specifically Harlem, in 1990 by Dr. Harold Freeman. The most common barriers to immediate treatments were:
- Financial and access barriers, such as no health insurance
- Communication and information barriers – such as non-native speakers of English
- Medical system barriers
- Fear, distrust, and emotional barriers
Since the initial program’s introduction, it has expanded in scope to include prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship issues faced by cancer patients. If you have recently been diagnosed, here are two free cancer support programs to help you get the care you need:
Lazarex Cancer Foundation will match you to a nationwide cancer clinical trials program and help you with the costs associated with participating including transportation (airfare, gas, rental cars, taxi fare, parking/tolls), lodging (short- and long-term housing) and certain medical expenses not covered by insurance and necessary for clinical trial treatment. For immediate free assistance, visit https://www.lazarex.org/helping-you/looking-for-help or call toll free 877-866-9523.
The American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program connects you with a cancer care expert who works with you one-on-one to resolve care, workplace, and financial issues. Call (800) 227-2345 to get the help you need today for free.
For more free cancer support groups, please visit the Cancer Care News national directory of no-cost programs here: https://cancercarenews.com/category/free-counseling-for-cancer-patients/.