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    Getting Financial Help With Drug Costs

    How to pay for cancer treatment? You've been diagnosed with cancer, the plan of treatment has been determined, it includes a new drug that has shown great promise for stopping your type of cancer. All you need is $57,000.00 per treatment, and you will need twelve. No problem, right? Here are some tips and resources for getting financial help with drug costs.

    If you have been dealing with cancer treatment costs for any time at all you have undoubtedly realized that this is probably going to cost a lot of money. So you're going to need help with these expenses.  Do you have insurance? How much will it pay? Will it cover the drugs that you will be prescribed? Will you be treated on an outpatient basis, or in the hospital? Are you on a trial program? Some trial drugs are not covered by most insurance policies unless approved in advance. How do you find out? Will you be able to get treatment if your insurance doesn't pay? There are a lot of questions. In this article, we will try to give you some tips on how to find some help, and the steps that will be needed to get it. 
    If you have seen the ads on TV for certain drugs, you may have noticed at the bottom of the screen in very small letters a line that says something to the effect of "For help with prescription drug costs call 555-555-5555" or when you're online and a drug add pops up, sometimes you will see the same message. So what doesn't this mean? Can anyone get free drugs? Not really, you have to meet certain qualifications. Below is a description of my experience when I tried to find financial help for Opdivo, a Bristol Myers Squib product. They also produce Yervoy, Orencia, 
    When I went to Bristol Myer's site, I saw a link for financial aid and it took me to their Bristol Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation that could help with expenses for their drugs. It's important to understand that this program is only for their drugs and this example only pertains to the Bristol Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation (BMSPAF). If the drug you need help with is not one of their drugs, you can find a similar program with almost all drug companies. 
    Starting with their link from their website for the Patient Assistance Foundation you will see this screen:

    You will see that this program is only for the drugs listed below:
    DAKLINZA™ (daclatasvir) ELIQUIS® (apixaban) EMPLICITI™ (elotuzumab) NULOJIX® (belatacept) OPDIVO® (nivolumab) ORENCIA® (abatacept) SPRYCEL® (dasatinib) YERVOY® (ipilimumab) Then you will see the eligibility requirements listed below:
    Eligibility Requirements If you have been prescribed one of these medicines, you may be eligible for the BMSPAF if you: *Do not have insurance coverage for your medicine listed on this site. *Live in the United States, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands. *Are treated by a US licensed prescriber. *Are being treated as an outpatient. *Have a yearly income that is at or below 300% Federal Poverty Level (FPL), $35,640 for a single person or $48,060 for a family size of two. Larger family sizes are adjusted accordingly. Medications that are injected and certain cancer medications may be subject to higher limits. These are just some of the eligibility requirements. Other eligibility criteria may apply. For more information about eligibility, call the BMSPAF at 1-800-736-0003.
    You can call the 800# listed to get more information, or look at the bottom of the screen and you will see the purple "Find out if you might qualify" button:

    Clicking on the "find out" button takes you to a screen that asks you qualifying questions
    Are you a resident of the US?

    Are you being treated on an outpatient basis?

    Are you being treated by a licensed physician?

    What is your household income?

    How many people live in your household?

    After answering these questions you will see this screen if you have qualified:

    When you click on the Download Application link you will get a PDF version of their application. It is a rather lengthy application, but just remember, a little time invested now can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout your treatments. It's worth the time to do the legwork. All companies that offer assistance have to be sure that we as patients actually need help, that we are actually a patient, and that we are not just someone trying to scam some money from them. It's hard to believe, but yes, it happens, even in the cancer world. 
    This particular application has a section for you to fill out in the "patient section" and another section for your doctor to fill out. Once it is complete, you mail or fax it to the BMSPAS and then wait for an answer. 
    Other Resources
    The process for finding help for the particular drug you need help with is the same. Simply Google the Company name and add, "patient drug assistance
    ". You will get several options to choose from in that search. I have found the patient assistance websites for the Companies listed below to help you:
    Celgene - Patient Assistance  Makers of Revlimid and Pomalyst
    Genentech - Makers of Rituxin

    The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is an organization that has a list of companies that offer assistance. They are partnered with Cure Magazine.
    The American Cancer Society has a resource page listing several drug companies that offer assistance.
    NeedyMeds is a non-profit company whose mission is to help those in need to obtain affordable healthcare. The video below explains a little about how they work. 
    Merk Patient Assistance Program - Merk Helps Makers of Keytruda
    Recent Conversations About Drug Expense Help on WhatNext
    "Merck Access Program pays for 2 treatments which are $12,500.00 an infusion, which is about $150,000.00 a year. Every 3 weeks I get an infusion, I'm still waiting for the cancer center to see what else I can qualify for, trying to stay alive is very expense, this does not include the radiation treatment or cancer doctor visit or pain management doctor prices or scan ie ,,ct pet scans or lab work before every infusion before I'm allowed to do treatment ..." Biga17133

    "I take a Gleevec chemo pill, and my co-pay is $155 for 90 days. Novartis has a $10 co-pay card that allows me to pay only $30 for 90 days. My insurance pays close to $18,000 for 90 days."- "BarbarainBham

    "My insurance didn't cover Emend, but I was able to get it at no charge through Merck's ACT Program: https://www.patientassistance.com/profile/merckcompanyinc-29/

    When my port gave me a blood clot, I was able to get Xarelto at no charge through Janssen's Care Path program: https://www.xarelto-us.com/xarelto-patient-assistance/xarelto-carepath

    In the case of Emend, my chemo nurse told me about the program. I forget whether she gave me the paperwork or whether I got it online, but I had to supply a copy of my tax info to see if I qualified. When I did I was given a special number to call to order each pill packet, which was delivered via FedEx a couple of days before my infusion.

    In the case of Xarelto, the patient advocate at my hospital registered me for the program while I was still an inpatient. I received a card and a support packet and had to show the card at my pharmacy.

    My partner takes Premarin and was given a discount card by her nurse practitioner. I showed the card at the pharmacy, which now has the discount on file: https://www.premarin.com/premarin-savings?cmp=premarinsavings The discount cuts the cost roughly in half." - "Ejourneys"

    "I received copay assistance from PAN Foundation. You have to have insurance, and they have to have funds available for your particular kind of cancer (their source of funding is from donations that are usually earmarked for a specific cancer). Their application process is fairly easy. Here is a link to the drugs that they cover.

    https://panfoundation.org/index.php/en/patients/medications-covered" - " JaneA "

    "My Dad wrote letters to all of the drug companies that made the drugs that he was using. He did get grants from a few drug companies. One company even paid for his co-pays! -"HeidiJo"

    Related Resources Page at WhatNext

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    Why I Finally Got a Feeding Tube

    Editor's note: Today's Blog Post is from "LCompston", she is a two-time survivor of head and neck cancer, that covers over 32 years. She has persevered all of the treatments, the side effects, and everything that cancer has thrown at her over the majority of her life, and she is still happy to be here to tell us about it. Today, she describes what it's like to live with a feeding tube. 

    I resisted getting a feeding tube for as long as I could. I knew I’d have to use one eventually, but I didn’t feel ready for a long time. I was afraid it would make me a lesser person or less attractive, and I worried that it would completely change my lifestyle.
    Now that I have one, I must admit: my lifestyle has changed. But I’ve gotten used to nourishing myself this way, and I’ve adjusted to eating seven times a day, instead of two or three.
    Today, I use my feeding tube as an education tool. I don’t draw unnecessary attention to myself, but I’ve started eating out in public more. I’ll sit near the back of a room and have a tray on my lap under the table. Sometimes, my 4-year-old grandson helps depress the syringe. And if someone asks me questions, I explain what I’m doing and why. I think it's a great learning opportunity. Because I do still eat, I just eat differently.
    A salivary gland cancer diagnosis finally forced my hand
    I started having real problems eating and swallowing in 2000, about 15 years after I received chemotherapy and radiation for stage III nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a rare type of throat cancer). I’d often choke, and had to figure out ways to cough up pills or food that got stuck in my throat.
    I had a feeding tube installed in February 2016 to supplement my diet. But I wasn’t using it regularly, and I kept on losing weight. Eventually, I was diagnosed with cancer-induced cachexia, or wasting disease. My body simply wasn’t getting enough nutrients.

    In April, I started aspirating (or getting into my lungs by accident) some of what I ate and drank, too. I developed pneumonia as a result and fought that infection for five months. I knew I had to start using my feeding tube exclusively or I was going to die. But it took being diagnosed with stage II salivary gland cancer in September 2016 to finally force my hand.
    The decision to embrace my feeding tube
    By this point, all of my meals were already being pureed in a blender. I’d been drinking them for months. But I started using my feeding tube exclusively on Sept. 20, 2016. Here’s why.
    It was my 49th birthday, and I’d just been to see Randal Weber, M.D., at MD Anderson. I thought I was just having my annual checkup. But Dr. Weber discovered a new tumor in my salivary gland on the left side of my jaw. He recommended surgery to remove it, which meant I’d be receiving all of my meals through a tube anyway. So, I went ahead and made the decision. I haven’t had any food or drinks by mouth in 14 months. I most likely never will again.
    My biggest challenge today
    Since then, my biggest challenge has been finding a liquid food that my body can tolerate. I was mainly a vegetarian before I was diagnosed with cancer the second time, but most meal replacements involve some type of meat protein. I’ve tried a few with salmon or chicken, but they just don’t agree with me. For the first four months of tube feeding, I had diarrhea after every meal. That stopped eventually, but I’m still excited to be trying a new product soon. It’s made from lots of organic vegetables.

    I do still miss the taste of some foods, but this is my reality, so I’ve accepted it. I’m just happy to be alive, and I’ll do whatever it takes to survive. Now, I try to find pleasure in the scents of certain things, like bacon frying or Mexican food cooking. I still love going out to eat with friends and family. I just take my food with me and eat under the table.
    Mostly, I don't want people to feel sorry for me. Because I'm eating just like you are. I just do it a little differently.
    Do you have experience with a feeding tube? Share your experiences in the comments below to help others that may be getting one. 
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    Looking for a Clinical Trial? New Clinical Trial Finders Will Help

    Most late-stage cancer patients hear this advice, “You might want to consider a clinical trial.” A number of Stage IV patients think ahead to have a plan in place in the event that a second line chemo isn’t effective. Your oncologist may even tell you that you need to contemplate a clinical trial.

    Knowing in advance what your options are in the event of second-line treatment failure will help you avoid stress if you get bad news.
    Before you begin searching, you need to produce a one-page summary of the treatments that you’ve had. There are inclusion eligibility requirements for every trial along with exclusion factors.
    Chemotherapy, what kind and how many cycles Radiation, what kind Surgical History Genetic Mutations Any other cancer history Any other significant health problems

    Get to know more about clinical trials from The American Cancer Society.

    Where does a patient begin? There are 268,018 clinical trials in all 50 states and 203 countries, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

    Their website, ClinicalTrials.gov, is a comprehensive database of public-and-private-funded medical trials. Information about each trial includes the kind of cancer, intervention/treatment, which phase, the objectives, how many patients are being recruited, the start and end dates, locations and eligibility requirements. When you first see all of this information, you may be overwhelmed. Every clinical trial is presented in the same format.
    CenterWatch.com’s website is a single source for both patients and healthcare professionals. It offers an easy search feature on the home page to search by kind of cancer and location.

    The good news is that there are trial finders now for different kinds of cancer. The major cancer centers post their clinical trials on their websites. Drug manufacturers post their upcoming clinical trials too. iTunes has 107 clinical trial finder apps, coming from diverse sources like the Cleveland Clinic and Eli-Lily.
    Here are some examples of the clinical trial finders available to patients.
    Breast. Clinical trial finder for those with metastatic breast cancer.
    Lung. Lungevity.org offers a clinical trial finder by types of lung cancer and location.
    Prostate. The Prostate Cancer Foundation offers a useful clinical trial overview.
    Colorectal. Fight Colorectal Cancer partnered with Dr. Tom Marsilje, a cancer researcher, and Stage IV colon cancer patient, to present a specially curated clinical trial finder, the Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder. This finder doesn’t present all of the colorectal clinical trials available but rather presents the ones with the least downside and the most potential long-term benefit.
    Melanoma. The Melanoma Research Foundation has an easy to use finder that is location-based.
    Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma/Leukemia/Multiple Myeloma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offers a free consultation with an LLS Clinical Trial Specialist whose expertise is blood cancers. They can help you decide if a trial is right for you, understand your financial obligations, help you with the enrollment and provide you support during the clinical trial.
    Kidney. CenterWatch offers a clinical trial finder for renal cell carcinoma. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is leading 22 clinical trials for kidney cancer.
    Head/Neck/Throat. Johns Hopkins Medicine is conducting a number of clinical trials for head and neck cancer.
    Many patients feel more confident and better prepared for tomorrow if they have a contingency plan in mind in the event that a second line chemo does not produce the expected results.
    To learn more about the advantages volunteering for a clinical trial offer, CenterWatch provides most of the information that you need to decide if the time is right for you and your family to consider a clinical trial.
    Patient Advocate Foundation provides case managers to help screen potential patients for clinical trials. Their free booklet – Lighting the Way: A Practical Guide to Clinical Trials – is a valuable resource for cancer patients.
    Do you have experience with clinical trials? If so, comment below with any tips that might help others as they try to navigate through finding their own. 
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    Multiple Myeloma and The Skyrocketing Costs of Treatment

    Many multiple myeloma patients experience long periods of remission, but virtually every patient will experience a relapse. The good news is the newer therapies offer effective for patients who relapse. The downside is the cost and how patients can afford the life-saving new therapies.

    Multiple myeloma has one of the highest costs per patient. Although only about 1 percent of all cancer patients have multiple myeloma, the cost of treatment over the course of time is inexplicably higher than for other type cancers that have metastasized to the bone.
    Not only have therapy costs risen, costs for other services like outpatient services (imaging and diagnostics) and hospitalization have risen for multiple myeloma patients.
    Newer drugs for multiple myeloma include:
    Ixazomib (Ninlaro) Elotuzumab (Empliciti) Daratumumab (Darzalex) Thalomid Revlimid Pomalyst Kyprolis

    Oral chemotherapy drugs like Ninlaro, Revlimid and Pomalyst are problematic, especially for patients on Medicare – oral therapy is covered under a separate prescription drug program with higher copays and a large donut-hole amount. Patients on Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans are not eligible for financial assistance from any drug manufacturers, including the ones listed.
    Oral chemotherapy drugs may have a 25 percent copay that has to be paid when the drug is picked up at the pharmacy. The good news is that many cancer treatment centers or their dedicated pharmacy have access to foundations that cover the copay on oral chemotherapy drugs.
    The good news is that financial assistance is available from a number of sources. Many cancer treatment centers have a social worker or financial assistance coordinator to help patients find the financial aid they need. Other patients will have to do the legwork by themselves.
    The most important point that every patient needs to know is they should never give up on finding the financial help they need to get treatment. Ask your physician, ask your oncologist, ask the social worker, ask other patients – help is available for virtually every patient.
    Patients who have traditional private health insurance will usually qualify for financial assistance from the drug manufacturer. Don’t assume that your income is too high. Providers of financial assistance recognize the extraordinary financial burdens that multiple myeloma patients face.
    As of mid-February 2018, only the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society copay assistance program is open to multiple myeloma patients. If you need copay assistance, apply NOW.
    OPEN for applications - Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 

    The following organizations may have openings later in the year for multiple myeloma patients and will most likely have new funding at the beginning of 2019.
    PAN (Patient Access Network) currently closed for myeloma – www.panfoundation.org Patient Advocate Foundation currently closed myeloma – www.copays.org Good Days currently closed for myeloma – www.mygooddays.org CancerCare currently closed for myeloma – www.cancercare.org Chronic Disease Fund currently closed for myeloma – 1-877-968-7233 press option #0

    Medicare patients only will find help through the Healthwell Foundation. They furnish copay assistance for virtually all of the therapies used to treat multiple myeloma, including the newest drug therapies. Household income can be up to 500 percent of the Federal poverty level (adjusted for household size and the high cost of living areas). For a retired couple, this means that they can have an income of up to $82,300 and still qualify for help from the Healthwell Foundation.

    A video of a discussion with multiple myeloma patients, doctors, patient navigators and social workers from The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on how to get financial help

    Be pro-active for yourself. Even if you’re told that there is no help for you, go online and search. You may have to search through 3 or 4 pages of results before you find a foundation that still has funds.
    For example, a WhatNexter patient with Renal Cell Carcinoma was told that no funds were available for her particular cancer for the upcoming fiscal year. She was frantic with worry and began her own search. She found The Assistance Fund that showed funds still available for RCC and called them. At first, the patient representative told her no funds were available. Our WhatNexter patient reasserted that the website indicated funds were available. It turned out funds were available, and she received the funds she needed.
    WhatNexter "EJourneys" added this "My insurance didn't cover Emend, but I was able to get it at no charge through Merck's ACT Program: https://www.patientassistance.com/profile/merckcompanyinc-29/

    When my port gave me a blood clot, I was able to get Xarelto at no charge through Janssen's Care Path program: https://www.xarelto-us.com/xarelto-patient-assistance/xarelto-carepath

    In the case of Emend, my chemo nurse told me about the program. I forget whether she gave me the paperwork or whether I got it online, but I had to supply a copy of my tax info to see if I qualified. When I did I was given a special number to call to order each pill packet, which was delivered via FedEx a couple of days before my infusion.
    In the case of Xarelto, the patient advocate at my hospital registered me for the program while I was still an inpatient. I received a card and a support packet and had to show the card at my pharmacy.
    My partner takes Premarin and was given a discount card by her nurse practitioner. I showed the card at the pharmacy, which now has the discount on file: https://www.premarin.com/premarin-savings?cmp=premarinsavings The discount cuts the cost roughly in half."
    One of the helpful members of WhatNext is "Carm", she is a Nurse who specializes in end of life care, and women's cancers. She offered this tutorial on getting help from Needy Meds, she says "There is a website called Needymeds and if you go to the website and click on the word menu, then patient savings...in the middle of the page you should see search by diagnosis. Click on the C for cancer, then the word cancer and you will get a list of many national organizations that will help with finances. Once you are past the national organizations you can scroll down to your state and you can see what offers are available as well. Good luck."
    Financial assistance is available to multiple myeloma patients. At the moment, only the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has funds earmarked for multiple myeloma patients. Most cancer treatment centers offer financial assistance for newly diagnosed and existing patients. If you need assistance, today is the day to take action.
    Do you have any helpful information to help with the skyrocketing costs of multiple myeloma treatment, or other cancer drugs? Please post them in the comments below. 
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    March Cancer Awareness and Events

    March has the following cancer types and awareness events scheduled.

    Coaches vs. Cancer Final Four (March 31) HPV Awareness Day (March 4) International Women’s Day (March 8) Kick Butts Day (March 21) National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month National Nutrition Month

    Coaches Vs. Cancer

    Every shot counts. Every life counts. The Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge helps the American Cancer Society save more lives. The 3-Point Challenge unites college and high school basketball teams from across country for a common cause – ending cancer. Fans donate for every three-point shot their team makes to benefit the American Cancer Society’s live-saving mission.

    High School basketball teams are raising money with games played in January 2018 and college basketball teams are raising money with games played in February 2018. All proceeds from the 3-Point Challenge support the American Cancer Society’s goal of a world without cancer. Find your team, make a pledge and help beat cancer on the court!
    For more information check out the Coaches Vs. Cancer Website

    HPV Awareness Day March 4th
    HPV Day is March 4th, 2018 it is an IPVS initiative to increase worldwide understanding of HPV and how it affects us all. The Give Love Not HPV campaign calls on everyone to take action to protect their family, friends and partners whether that is by getting informed, getting vaccinated or getting screened for HPV.

    IPVS has recruited over 80 partners worldwide to help raise awareness of HPV on March 4th and throughout the year. For more information about the campaign, our partners and to access International HPV Awareness Day resources, visit the campaign website or contact the campaign team at hpvday@kenes.com

    International Women's Day March 8th
    Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There's a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. 

    The IWD Website asks: How will you #PressforProgress in 2018? The International Women's Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressforProgress.
    Individually, we're one drop but together we're an ocean. Commit to a "gender parity mindset" via progressive action. Let's all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.
    Kick Butts Day March 21st
    Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. The next Kick Butts Day is March 21, 2018. We're expecting more than 1,000 events in schools and communities across the United States and even around the world.

    On Kick Butts Day, teachers, youth leaders and health advocates organize events to:
    Raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their state or community;

    Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free; and

    Urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

    Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996.

    Get more information from their website here: Kick Butts Day

    National Colorectal Cancer Month
    From the Colorectal Cancer Alliance

    We are the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, formerly the Colon Cancer Alliance. Our name change reflects an intention to address the needs of those affected by colon and rectal cancer alike — to provide support services, to raise awareness of preventive measures, and to inspire efforts to fund critical research.

    While colorectal cancer affects the lives of more than 140,000 Americans every year, it is preventable. With this in mind we have made it our mission to end the disease within our lifetime.
    Patient Support:

    No one is ever alone. Our patient empowerment team is always available to provide hope and support to patients, families, caregivers and survivors. If you, or someone you love, is struggling to understand or overcome a cancer diagnosis, we can provide the latest information, and point you to expert resources and cutting-edge tools. At the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, we strive to deliver the level of support you need to make you whole again.


    Screening is the number one way to reduce the risk for this unique cancer. There are other ways, though. We believe it’s important for all of us to can take charge of our health by knowing family history, understanding risk factors, eating a balanced diet, exercising, limiting alcohol use, and never smoking. For us, sharing this information is essential to ending colorectal cancer.

    Our research agenda includes advancing biomarker research, understanding why those under 50 are increasingly diagnosed with colon cancer, decreasing late-state diagnosis of high-risk populations, closing the referral gap for screening and diagnostic testing, and advancing long-term survivorship psychosocial concerns. We see patients, researchers, medical institutions and industry as pivotal allies for pursuing this effort.
    Join our #NationOfAllies and find out how you can make a difference today. Because Tomorrow can’t wait™
    National Nutrition Month
    National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In addition, National Nutrition Month® promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, celebrated on the second Wednesday in March, increases awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDNs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
    2018 NNM Theme "Go Further with Food" is the theme for 2018, and its importance is timely for many reasons. Whether it's starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a difference. Preparing foods to go further at home and within the community can have a positive impact, as well. As nutrition experts, Academy members can help people adopt healthier eating styles, while reducing food loss and waste.
    Be sure to revisit the Academy's National Nutrition Month® website during the upcoming months for new and updated resources to help make the NNM 2018 celebration an infinite success!
    History Initiated in March 1973 as a week-long event, "National Nutrition Week" became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. Read more in the article, "National Nutrition Month: A Brief History."
    Do you know of any other cancer awareness events going on during March? If so, please list them below in the comments, and please use the share buttons at the top or bottom of this post and share! 
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    There's something about survivorship that leaves you wondering about what's next. Should you just move on with your life? Do you need to take different steps to stay healthy? You may feel a sense of confusion and loss after a doctor tells you that you are cancer free or ready to move past treatment. The challenge is moving into survivorship and taking the next steps to enjoy your life.

    Getting Support
    We've all gone through a transitional period with our emotions after cancer. When my mother was initially diagnosed with skin cancer, I was terrified. I felt that I was losing the woman who was my support. At that time, I realized that she needed my support and love to get through the treatments. After the doctors told her that her cancer was in remission, my entire family was overjoyed.
    Our relief was short-lived when we found out that her medical facility was cutting her loose. I remember my mom's emotional turmoil. She was happy that her cancer was in remission, but she felt that she had no support for the transition into a healthy life. At that time, my siblings and I decided to step up and give her the help she needed until she was ready to move forward with her life. We spent the time researching diet and nutritional plans to make her meals. We worked out an exercise plan to help with her goals.
    It was during this time that I realized the importance of support in survivorship. My mom was able to lean on family and friends during a difficult transitional period. It allowed her to feel confident in her long-term health. When you are moving into survivorship, a healthy support system is the foundation of your long-term goals.
    Working with Your Medical Facility
    Although my mother did not have direct support from her medical facility, she was informed that survivorship templates are available to assist with her goals. Medical facilities may or may not offer a survivorship template or support after cancer care. Doctors provide details about options available in a local area when a facility does not offer direct support for a transition into survivorship.

    Survivor Care Plan Template 

    This care plan was developed by the Minnesota Cancer Alliance to help you record details of your cancer treatment, help you discuss post-treatment needs with your health care provider, gain awareness of short and long-term side effects post treatment and develop a plan to address needs and concerns of post-treatment survivorship and follow-up care.
    A template gives a place to start when you are ready to move forward with your life. It helps you develop a diet plan and an exercise plan to stay on track with your health goals. It also ensures that you have the information you need to reduce the risk of remission. My family decided to look for templates as part of our research into health for my mother's needs.

    ONCO Life Survivorship Care Plan

    The OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan is a tool to help you work with your oncologist and primary healthcare provider to address the medical and psychosocial challenges that may arise post-treatment.
    When a medical facility offers a survivorship template or a plan for their patients after cancer, it focuses on individual needs. The programs usually provide information about diet and exercise. It may also provide support groups for specific types of cancer survivorship. In my mom's case, she decided to join a support group for skin cancer in her local area. The support group gave her an outlet to discuss her concerns as well as to connect with others who have gone through the same painful treatments.

    Journey Forward

    This care plan is one that your doctor must fill out for you. It was created by a collaboration of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the UCLA Cancer Survivorship Center, Wellpoint, Inc., and Genentech.

    ASCO Cancer Treatment Summaries

    Today, there are more than 15.5 million Americans alive with a history of cancer. Cancer.Net's survivorship section provides helpful information for cancer survivors and their friends and family.
    Survivorship after cancer is a process. Transitioning into a healthy lifestyle takes time, but it is possible with love and support. You can work with loved ones, a local support group or your medical facility to develop a plan of action that gives you the tools to take the next step into survivorship after cancer.
    If you need ideas and support for moving past cancer treatments and on into cancer survivorship, drop in at WhatNext and ask for the guidance you need. There are lots of great people there that are happy to help you along your road to cancer survivorship!
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