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Social Issues

No matter where you live, if you have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, you have resources in your community that you can look to for help. Many local organizations throughout the country offer support groups, provide financial assistance, or help with transportation, but often patients do not know about them or are unable to find them. This section will provide you with information regarding possible resources and services for patients and families dealing with cancer. Contact information as well as related links will also be provided. Cancer is a very difficult disease, but there are people who can and want to ease your burdens. The most important thing to remember is that you must ask for help in order to receive it; knowing where to go for help is the first step.
Job Security

Cancer patients that are currently employed should contact a Human Resource representative regarding long and short-term disability programs as well as information about the Family and Medical Leave Act. If a cancer patient is unemployed and disabled, he or she should contact the Social Security Administration regarding benefits and programs. All patients that are concerned with job security or their ability to be hired for employment should be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This act makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against an individual with a disability who is qualified for the job. More information regarding this act as well as other rights can be found at the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) websites.

If you need to find a new job because you can no longer do the type of work you did before cancer, you may meet the guidelines for job rehabilitation through the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Insurability

If a cancer patient faces a insurability issue after diagnosis, he should contact the state agency for insurance regulation. While insurance for cancer patients is a hot topic for patient advocacy, the patient has few rights. Insurability should not be intertwined with job security because an employer cannot legally dismiss an employee because of an increase in insurance premiums.

For more on insurance/job security issues, please visit Facing Forward, a CancerNet guide for Cancer Survivors.

If you feel that you have been treated unjustly by your insurance provider, you should contact your state’s Insurance Commission.

Financial Services

Services are available to patients dealing with cancer. Often local utility companies offer special rates or negotiate with customers that are inhibited by cancer treatment or conditions. Contact your local phone, electric, water, etc. companies to inquire about these programs.

Some organizations offer financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is one group that offers financial assistance.

Transportation

Transportation to and from treatment sessions can be difficult for cancer patients. Several organizations offer aid. The American Cancer Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are two groups that have programs to help patients reach and return from their treatments. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to ask about the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery volunteer transportation program. In addition, local or county government agencies often offer low-cost transportation (para-transit) to individuals unable to use public transportation. Contact these offices for more information and ask your cancer specialist for other local aid in transportation.