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(BPT) - Cancer patients face skyrocketing costs for their treatment, which adds to the stress of a cancer diagnosis and living with a disease. As an unapologetically patients-first organization, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is finding ways to lessen the burden. “When cancer patients are fighting for their life, the last thing they need is financial distress,” says Gwen Nichols, M.D., LLS chief medical officer. “The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society puts patients at the forefront, advocating for financial relief and offering solutions.”
Take advantage of available resources.
Nichols suggests a number of resources to assist with expenses related to treatment, such as:
* Negotiate with healthcare providers to reduce medical fees or adjust the payment schedule in cases of financial hardship.
* Apply for grants and financial aid from employers, labor unions, community service agencies, religious and fraternal groups or organizations such as LLS.
* Form a committee of volunteers to conduct fundraising events, sales, raffles, canister collections or letter-writing and publicity campaigns.
* Cash in benefits from life insurance policies through life insurance loans or accelerated benefits, which can provide cash payouts to seriously ill policyholders.
As the cost of care rises, patients need up-to-date information and support to help navigate their complex financial challenges. The LLS Information Specialists are social workers and nurses who work one-on-one with blood cancer patients, connecting them to a variety of free services and resources, including:
* Financial support — Assistance with the cost of treatment, transportation and daily expenses.
* Co-pay assistance — Help for eligible patients to pay for prescription drug co-pays and health insurance premiums.
* Clinical trial navigation — LLS educates patients about the availability of appropriate clinical trials for patients.
Be an advocate for change.
Your voice is valuable. Advocating for yourself or a loved one with cancer can help shape discussions about the cost of care. The LLS Office of Public Policy is charged with pursuing LLS' goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients through advocacy aimed at governmental decision makers. You might be interested in advocating for policies that can provide additional benefits and protections for people who have cancer, or you might want to support policies that promote faster progress toward cures.
Cancer survivor and LLS advocate Paul O’Hara has been advocating on behalf of cancer patients since he was personally affected by the debilitating cost of care when he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009. “Legislators didn’t understand what it was like to make a decision between medicine you need to survive and your mortgage or electric bill,” says O’Hara. “Seeing lawmakers ‘get it’ when I shared my story with them made me realize I wasn’t just speaking for my family, but for all survivors.”
To find out more about advocating for policy changes at the state and federal level, contact LLS Advocacy at advocacy@LLS.org or visit www.LLS.org/advocacy.