Rent or Radiation? How the Financial Aspect of Cancer Treatment Takes a Toll and How You Can Help

Medical expenses can quickly add up even when you’re a generally healthy individual. For those undergoing a severe health condition like cancer, the expense can be unbearable. Nobody should be placed in a situation where they are worried about paying for the treatment they need. However, tens of thousands of newly diagnosed cancer patients in America find themselves in this exact situation every year.

Although sufferers won’t be denied treatment for not having insurance, they are responsible for paying 100% of the cost. This can quickly amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars — a sum that is insurmountable for most U.S. cancer patients. For those with insurance, some of the costs will be covered but not all of them. People of color and younger patients are more likely to face hardship covering the total costs of cancer.

While you can’t change the healthcare system, you can help those who are unable to make ends meet while battling this terrible disease. Whether you are a primary caregiver, relative, or friend, you likely know someone who is currently going through cancer treatment. Below are three ways you can lighten their load.

1. Assist With Non-Medical Expenses

On top of cancer-related medical costs, patients face other expenses during this time. Cancer treatments typically require multiple visits to a hospital or health center. Patients may not have the stamina to drive or take public transit after treatment, and cab rides and Ubers can quickly add up. Some individuals may be receiving treatment at a cancer center far from their home. In these instances, lodging for extended periods of time may be needed.

Because cancer impacts the entire family and not just the patient, additional services may be required. Childcare, for instance, may be necessary when both parents or guardians are at the treatment facility. For those who don’t have family nearby, childcare can be a significant out-of-pocket expense.

Giving financially can be the most helpful way of assisting with these non-medical expenses. If your loved one balks at your offer, go the institutional route. You can, for example, donate to breast cancer organizations that help patients cover such costs. Alternatively, find sneaky ways to provide grocery store gift cards or drive them to appointments. No matter how you contribute, know that you’re helping someone who truly needs it right now.

2. Make Their Home a Sanctuary

There’s no place like home. This couldn’t be more true for patients who find themselves in and out of hospital rooms. However, while their home is where they want to be, cancer can cause mobility issues that make it unsuited to their current needs. It may be harder for them to get around, so moving from room to room may be challenging. They may have trouble getting in and out of bed or using the toilet without assistance.

If a loved one is living with cancer, you can help them address some of these mobility-related issues. Ask them to write down or tell you what aspects of their home are more tricky given their new normal. This could be anything from getting up the stairs to difficulty taking a shower. Once you have this complete list, you can begin making modifications or acquiring mobility aids.

Of course, always ask the patient and their family before you go in and adjust anything. A raised toilet seat may be helpful to the patient, but they may not want it in the main guest bathroom. Some tasks, like installing a ramp over exterior steps may demand outside help. If a contractor is required, arrange a time that’s convenient for the patient and be onsite to ensure the job is done properly. Completing and paying for these upgrades is a heavy weight you can lift off the shoulders of the patient and their family.

3. Set Up a Wish List

When someone is first diagnosed with cancer, everyone tries to help. They want to be there for the individual and their family during this difficult time. However, they may not always know the best way to provide assistance. Flowers are great, for example, but they aren’t going to make a huge impact when it comes to the patient’s care. At this time, patients need both practical and thoughtful gifts.

Setting up a wish list is one way patients can get items they actually need without paying for them on their own. A wish list can include items that are required immediately as well as those that may be necessary later in their cancer journey. And not everything has to be medically related. Patients also need to be entertained as they go through treatment, so audiobooks and crossword puzzle collections can provide a nice distraction.

Amazon is one of the easiest sites for creating a wish list simply because of the number of products readily available. Similar to a registry, the list can be updated regularly, and purchased items are sent to the receiver’s listed address. Cancer-related sites also enable patients to create wish lists to share with their family and friends.

Easing the Burden

Navigating cancer treatment and paying for it is overwhelming, to say the least. On top of this, recent research shows that out-of-pocket expenses even for insured cancer patients are rising. This is likely due to inflation, as goods and services are simply more expensive today than they were a few years ago. Fortunately, you can make an impact through these direct or indirect financial donations. Every cent counts and will show the cancer patient in your life how truly they are loved.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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