Often times people don't know how to respond to a person who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Particularly leukemia, lymphoma, or MDS because there is not a tumor that can be "cut" out or an easy "sure-fire" treatment plan. The course of treatment is long and arduous. Unfortunately, people do not know what to say or do. Therefore sometimes it is easier to back away from the situation rather than staying in touch with the patient. Since it's about them and their responses, not you, unfortunately, there isn't much you can do.
Treatment for blood cancers requires intense chemotherapy. The job of these drugs is to eliminate the production of the cancerous blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow. With the decrease of red and white blood cells, your body is working hard to produce healthy cells to replace the "blasts" or cancerous cells. Your cell count may actually return to normal long before the cells are working at full capacity. Think of it like the immune system of a newborn baby that has built up no antibodies to the outside world. Additionally, the toll that the chemotherapy has taken on your body and the rest of your organs can also extend the recuperation time. So be patient with yourself! Over time, your energy will gradually return.
These are the criteria to qualify for our needs-based program:
We do not publish our income guidelines, but we strongly encourage you to apply because they are above many financial aid programs. We recognize that these diagnoses and the associated expenses can cause financial distress for anyone, even two income families with good insurance. Each application is considered individually.
Expenses directly related to medical treatment for your blood cancer diagnosis; co-pays for prescriptions, doctors and hospital bills, and other expenses related to treatment per physician orders.
If you are approved, the program will cover expenses dating back 90 days prior to your approval date.
Blood cancers are not contagious. Often times people become concerned for their family and loved ones thinking they might pass the disease on to someone close to them. This will not happen. It cannot be passed on through contact.
It is very likely that a child will miss some school, but typically not for the entire course of treatment. You can make accommodations, for example, when platelets are low your child can go to school, but perhaps gym class will have to be sidelined. There may be brief periods around certain treatments that require him or her to stay at home due to a suppressed immune system or a reaction to a therapy. But with the help of tutors (which should be provided through the school system) your child should be promoted with his or her classmates.
This is a tough question because it depends on how much you want to do to help! One of the most important things you can do to help is to stay in touch. Also, you can make yourself useful with the little things, or perhaps even take on the responsibility of spearheading a larger project. Mowing the lawn on a weekly basis may seem like a small thing to you; however, it is a huge thing that the patient now doesn't have to worry about. Driving a carpool also may not seem like "really helping out;" however, to the family it is one less issue that needs to be resolved.
Making yourself available for whatever the patient or family needs is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. The support that a non-family member can offer simply by being there is a genuine gift. Remember it can be a long road. Oftentimes people rally in the beginning, but the support tends to fizzle out down the bumpy road. If you can stay connected for the entire course of treatment and recovery you will be a lifelong friend.