Travel and money. Those are often the two biggest obstacles facing people with mesothelioma, and they’re connected.
Patients and their families usually can’t get high-quality treatment at their local hospital, so they need to travel. However, traveling costs money — money they often don’t have.
Many organizations have stepped up to help patients with these roadblocks. CancerCare is the latest, with a new transportation assistance program explicitly for mesothelioma patients. The program, a grant, provides financial mesothelioma support to people needing to travel for medical care, no matter how close or how far away.
“There is a recognition that a lot of people with mesothelioma have to travel to these distant places for treatment,” said Charlotte Ference, a licensed master social worker for CancerCare. “When you seek quality care, it’s really limited.”
Details of the Grant: Who It’s For and How It Works
CancerCare started the grant, formally titled the Transportation Assistance for Mesothelioma Patients Program, in 2020. This service handles the financial burdens of:
- Car rental
- Air travel to treatment facilities
Basically, CancerCare aims to handle all costs that patients and families face going to prestigious centers. The grant is funded by Novocure, the manufacturer of the FDA-approved tumor treating fields device Optune Lua.
Ference said Novocure wants to work with CancerCare due to its reputation for helping cancer patients access high-quality, life-saving treatment. This new travel assistance grant is another example.
“We want to help as many people as possible get to where they want to be,” Ference said. “We also want people who are away from their support system and home to not feel the need to fixate on or stress about money.”
How to Apply for the Grant
Patients can apply for the grant by calling the CancerCare HOPEline or reaching out to the Mesothelioma Guide medical staff. Our patient advocate team has a relationship with CancerCare and can help you sign up for the organization’s programs. Our support staff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-888-385-2024.
Once you connect with CancerCare and if you meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll receive an application to submit. Ference will then contact you for further information.
The program has two eligibility criteria:
- The patient must be in treatment currently or was in treatment within the past six months.
- The patient’s income cannot exceed 250% of the federal poverty limit (or 400% of it if they’re a New York resident).
The organization continued operating the program through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic while taking the necessary safety precautions. Ference acknowledged it has been “a challenge” in the pandemic due to fewer patients wanting to travel due to virus concerns.
However, Ference said the program is available to patients wanting to drive to regional centers. Once approved for the grant, patients receive a check from CancerCare to cover initial costs. The grant then reimburses the patient afterward for all additional travel expenses
“We don’t care where people go for treatment,” she said. “If they want to fly to see a specialist, that’s great. We will cover that. If they want to get lodging three hours from their home, that’s fine too. We will also cover that.”
More About CancerCare
CancerCare provides a range of free support services to people affected by cancer. The programs include emotional and financial assistance, and the organization started in 1944 and helps nearly 200,000 people per year.
The most recent initiatives for the mesothelioma community include a support group explicitly for veterans. Mesothelioma affects veterans at a disproportionate rate, so this service has significant value.
CancerCare also has licensed counselors and social workers available for free phone support sessions. The organization’s HOPEline is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (eastern time). Call 800-813-4673 to speak with the support staff.
Sources & Author
- Transportation Assistance for Mesothelioma Patients Program. CancerCare. Retrieved from: https://media.cancercare.org/documents/101/2019_Mesothelioma_Patient_Program_Flyer.pdf. Accessed: 12/15/2020.
Sources & Author