Written by: Devin Golden

Mesothelioma Patient Support Options

Mesothelioma patients deserve support as they face a cancer diagnosis usually carrying a poor life expectancy. Fortunately, there are many resources for receiving treatment from the best cancer centers and legal resources for asbestos exposure victims. Travel accommodations, community support, financial assistance, and end-of-life help are available.

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Mesothelioma Help Options

Patients face many financial and emotional burdens when they are undergoing mesothelioma treatment. The cost of treatment is usually high, making patients face tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills for chemotherapy, immunotherapy or surgery.

There are many different organizations that help patients who are receiving treatment for mesothelioma. These organizations can help both patients and their families with any unexpected costs, and they also provide a sense of community and support.

This page outlines the available patient support options. The topics you’ll read about include:

  • Travel resources – Travel might be needed to find the best specialists and treatments.  There are organizations that offer free or discounted flights and lodging to patients and their families. Other organizations offer grants that may cover travel for an initial consultation or for multiple trips if the patient is enrolled in a clinical trial.
  • Emotional support – Support groups and counseling services are available to patients, caregivers and loved ones. Community events and national awareness days, such as Mesothelioma Awareness Day each year in September, are other forms of support.
  • Financial assistance – Patients and families face medical bills, lost wages and more hardships. Government assistance and legal help are available to victims of asbestos exposure and asbestos cancers like mesothelioma.

Travel Resources for Mesothelioma Patients

Travel resources and grants are available to patients and their loved ones wishing to travel to see a mesothelioma specialist or receive treatment. These resources are broken down by grants, flights, housing and lodging.

Grants

Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma can apply for specialized grants that may help cover the costs of travel to see a mesothelioma specialist or receive treatment from cancer centers.  Applications should be submitted prior to any travel, and some restrictions may apply for eligibility.

Flights

Many patients with mesothelioma have to travel by air in order to receive the specialized treatment they need. However, this constant travel can be very expensive. Patients should not have to worry about how they are going to pay for flights. A few organizations help to alleviate this stress by providing free or discounted airfare.

Corporate Angel Network

Corporate Angel Network (CAN) is a non-profit organization providing free flights on corporate jets to cancer patients who need transportation to distant cancer centers. CAN connects patients with companies who offer seats on their private jets. Patients can receive treatment without having the stress of busy airports and planes. CAN does its best to find a flight headed to the location of treatment. Patients can use this resource as often as possible, and there is no financial burden.

Angel Flight, Inc.

Angel Flight, Inc. is a non-profit company that was founded by pilots who wanted to volunteer their time and skills. The organization is run by pilots, volunteers and friends. They provide flights to or from the Midwest region of the United States. The area of service is Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Those who benefit from their services are anyone who requires medical treatment in specific areas, like Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston, Texas, or MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. The organization is supported through grants,the private funding of pilots or special interest groups.

Housing

There are several housing options for patients who need to travel for mesothelioma appointments and treatment. It is common for hotels near hospitals to offer discounted rates for patients and their families. Some cancer centers, such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, even have low-cost housing, often sponsored by charities, for people in need.

AirBnB ‘Open Homes for Medical Stays’ Program

In 2019, AirBnB started the Open Homes for Medical Stays program, which provides free housing for cancer patients and their caregivers. AirBnB also announced a partnership with the Cancer Support Community and Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation to help cancer patients find housing through the Open Homes program.

According to WebMD, thousands of cancer patients received housing through Airbnb’s program in just a couple of months after it began.

Airbnb also set up grants with the two non-profit organizations to provide financial assistance to patients when a free home isn’t available. According to WebMD, grant funding for these instances is at least $1.2 million.

To be eligible for the free housing initiatives, applicants must meet specific geographic and income criteria:

  • Traveling at least 50 miles for care
  • Maximum gross family income caps depending on the size of the household

Cancer Support Community CEO Kim Thiboldeaux, who was quoted on Airbnb’s webpage that announced the initiatives, said her company takes “thousands of calls” from people who struggle with the costs of traveling for treatment.

Airbnb’s program relies on the generosity of others. For this reason, AirBnB is always looking for hosts willing to offer their houses to cancer patients and caregivers.

Fisher House Foundations

In 1991, the first Fisher House was built to welcome the family members of patients who were receiving medical treatment at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The idea was simple: to provide family members of veterans with a home away from home. There are now more than 50 Fisher Houses across the United States. As more than one-third of all mesothelioma patients are veterans, the Fisher House Foundation is a valuable commodity.

Each Fisher House is located on the property of major medical military hospitals and veteran clinics. According to the Fisher House Foundation, there is at least one Fisher House at each major medical military center. For example, the Fisher House at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System is less than 2.5 miles from UCLA Medical Center, which has a specialized mesothelioma treatment program. Veterans should start by filing their VA claim, which the veterans service representative at Mesothelioma Guide can help with.

Housing Assistance at Cancer Centers

Many cancer centers offer housing for families of those receiving treatment who have traveled out-of-state, such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Abramson Cancer Center. Many offer a complete living area, including a shared living room, bedroom, full kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities.

There are programs specifically meant for families who have loved ones receiving treatment for mesothelioma.

These options are generally very affordable compared to hotel rates. Rates are around $30 a night, and families are comfortable knowing they are close to their loved ones who are receiving treatment. If housing is full, the hospital may work with local hotels to get similar rates for families.

Emotional Support

The attitude and mindset of a patient and their family may be one of the most important factors in the treatment and recovery process. The late Dr. David Sugarbaker stated, “Sharing a difficult time is often much easier than going it alone.”

There are multiple ways in which patients and their loved ones can receive a listening ear or support as they battle cancer. These include support groups and hospice care.

Support Groups

Support groups are a great way for patients and caregivers to connect with people who are dealing with the same mesothelioma issues. They help patients realize they are not alone and give them the opportunity to learn from other patients who have been through similar treatments. These support groups are available online, in person and over the phone.

Mesothelioma Guide has a page dedicated to support groups for patients. If you are a patient, caregiver or loved one, look for a support group that fits your schedule.

Counseling Services

Counseling services are offered at many hospitals and support organizations to mesothelioma patients. Some hospitals even have support groups specifically for mesothelioma patients. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is an example of this. Others offer support groups to veterans with cancer. A professional counselor is offered as a trained listener and an expert at helping people cope with difficult situations.

Read about Massachusetts General Hospital’s attempt to help mesothelioma patients cope with their diagnosis and treatment.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is an important support option for mesothelioma patients. Hospice is much more than just end-of-life care. Hospice programs provide patients and families with 24-hour nursing care, supportive services, medications, in-home medical equipment and emotional support – including chaplain services. Hospice care usually begins when patients are no longer receiving life preserving treatments, like chemotherapy.

Mesothelioma Guide has a page dedicated to information about hospice care. Read more for guidance.

Mesothelioma Financial Assistance

Many important financial resources are available to mesothelioma patients. These resources assist patients with receiving money that they deserve and need to pay for treatments and other expenses.

Legal Compensation

Legal claims help mesothelioma patients receive compensation from the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. Many of these companies have put billions of dollars in trust funds for mesothelioma patients to claim.

Learn more about mesothelioma legal claims in our legal section.

Veteran Benefits

More than 30% of mesothelioma patients are military veterans, with the largest number serving in the Navy during the 20th century. Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, these patients are eligible for VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension payments. The VA also offers health insurance to qualified veterans, plus caregiver support and benefits for dependents.

Read more about financial options for veterans with our VA claims page.

Government Programs

Mesothelioma patients are often eligible for assistance from programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. These programs provide assistance to senior citizens, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes.

Community Support

Raising awareness of mesothelioma is important. There are many community efforts attempting to do this. Numerous organizations are dedicated to increasing awareness and support of patients, caregivers and family members struggling with a diagnosis. A few of these events and organizations are below.

Relay for Life

American Cancer Society holds events every year called Relay for Life. These events are held in multiple locations at different times of the year. While the Relay events focus on all cancers, mesothelioma patients, survivors and family members are encouraged to attend to raise support for mesothelioma. Relay for Life raises money for finding a cure for cancer and aims to celebrate, remember, and fight back against cancer.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Mesothelioma Awareness Day started in 2004. It occurs each year on September 26. September is Mesothelioma Awareness Month. The annual day of awareness and support was started by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Cure Meso).

Mesothelioma Awareness Day consists of mesothelioma organizations, patients, survivors, caregivers and others showing their support by wearing blue ribbons, attending awareness walks, donating to cancer centers or research organizations, and more.

Common Questions About Patient Support Options for Mesothelioma

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What are some of the support resources for people with mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma patients and their families do not need to fight this cancer alone. Some of the notable support resources for mesothelioma are:

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Can mesothelioma patients get travel and housing assistance?

People with mesothelioma can receive financial aid to cover the costs of plane tickets, hotels or temporary housing. Corporate Angel Network and Angel Flights are two non-profit organizations that help cancer patients with flights. AirBnB, among others, provides help for housing accommodations. You can also stay at hospital-run housing if it’s available.

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How can I help someone with mesothelioma?

If your friend or family member has mesothelioma, you can help them in several ways. Even if you’re not a professional counselor, listening and providing emotional support is invaluable to a cancer patient. Additionally, you can be a caregiver by preparing meals, helping them with activities of daily living and attending doctors visits.

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Are there any events that I can attend to support people with mesothelioma?

The American Cancer Society holds an annual event called Relay for Life to raise awareness and funding for research. Some of the top cancer centers across the world accept donations, and non-profit organizations host 5K races and other events to raise awareness and funding.

Sources & Author

    1. Corporate Angel Network. Corporate Angel Network. Retrieved from: https://www.corpangelnetwork.org/. Accessed: 09/25/2022.
    2. Angel Flight. Angel Flight. Retrieved from: https://www.angelflight.com/. Accessed: 09/25/2022.
    3. Tips for hosting people who are traveling for medical care. AirBnB. Retrieved from: https://www.airbnb.com/resources/hosting-homes/a/tips-for-hosting-people-who-are-traveling-for-medical-care-295. Accessed: 11/25/2022.
    4. Meso Awareness Day. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.curemeso.org/get-involved/get-involved-events/mesothelioma-awareness-day/. Accessed: 09/25/2022.
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About the Writer, Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Karen Ritter, a registered nurse, is the lead patient advocate for Mesothelioma Guide. She has a deep passion for patient care, which includes helping patients and their families search for treatment options at the top mesothelioma cancer centers. She finds the balance between encouraging patients to receive the best treatment possible while enjoying their time with loved ones and friends. Karen is a valuable asset for patients due to her knowledge of mesothelioma, compassion for the victims of this disease and dedication to guiding patients through their treatment journey.