|I could not do this alone.|
The support of friends, family, and total strangers is priceless.
There are tons of supportive resources for cancer patients. I know I've left out a lot. The following are a few I have personally utilized and highly recommend...and they all include actual free stuff, and, being like most teachers, I like free stuff.
American Cancer Society
I admit, other than spending countless hours educating myself on their website, I haven't personally called on the ACS once since I've been on this trip, but their help has been there nonetheless. I know they have many services available, including wigs and prosthetic devices for cancer patients. Recently, though, someone signed me up for help (if it was you, please let me know). The week before my surgery I received a package from the local ACS affiliate that included a very kind letter, a number of very informative booklets on the variety of procedures and treatments I would be undergoing, and (my favorite things) a small handmade pillow and a sort of pink fabric purse thingy for my surgical drain (so it's not just left dangling in the wind at my side). I didn't know how much these items would be appreciated until after my surgery. Whoever submitted my name, thank you!
Look Good Feel Better
An ACS funded program for cancer patients undergoing chemo. Sign up and attend one of their classes for help with makeup, skin, nails, and hair (or no hair ) issues. You get to spend a couple of hours with other women in the same boat as you (when I attended there were 6 of us, all with breast cancer). These classes are led by a professional in the beauty industry. You also get a nice assortment of fresh, new makeup, cleansers, and creams. Sessions are 2 hours.
|My wide variety of freebies from the Look Good Feel Better program, |
all for "Light" complexion. Each participant received a slightly different package.
These people are so sweet. This is a company that sells wonderful hair accessories. Laurie Erickson is the owner and CEO and, thanks to her desire to help a customer who was undergoing chemotherapy and hair loss, the Good Wishes program was born. More info is found on their website, including contact information. I called their 888 number and spoke with a very sweet young lady who was happy to help. Within a couple of weeks I received a stylin' head scarf, plus a card signed by the ladies who work there. I loved the personal touch! It brought tears to my eyes. You can see my scarf below, plus, if you go to the Therapon interview link (scroll back up - right side), you'll see me wearing it.
|My Good Wishes head scarf from France Luxe.|
The personal note that was included made it even more special.
This is a non-profit organization that sends boxes of hats to those who have lost hair due to chemotherapy or other medical related reasons. I filled out the online form and in less than a week received a box containing a wide variety of hats. They also welcome requests for friends or loved ones in need. They encourage donations and fundraising, so my school had "Heavenly Hat Month" in October and kids or teachers could bring a dollar and wear a hat whenever they wanted throughout the month. What a great way to show support!
Cleaning for a Reason
If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment for any type of cancer (or know someone who is), this organization partners with local cleaning services and offers 4 free cleanings (2 hours each, I think), once monthly for 4 months. I understand it's often difficult to get this service since it depends on there being a participating service in your area. They also limit the number of patients that they will clean for (2 at a time), so this, too, limits availability. Those cleaning professionals who do volunteer are just that...volunteers. They are not paid for their service. You sign up online and then they will contact you and, assuming there is someone available to clean in your area, they request a fax from your doctor informing them that you are, indeed, undergoing cancer treatment at this time. (Isn't it sad to think that people would lie about something like this, just to get their house cleaned.) I have successfully signed up and my first cleaning will happen Nov. 18. The woman who called me was super nice and said she is the only service in this area doing this right now, so I feel very fortunate.
Cancer Support Homes or other similar organizations
In my area (Northwest Arkansas) we are fortunate to have the Cancer Support Home. This is a great organization, funded by a wide variety of sources. They offer many different services to cancer patients and their families, including classes, counseling for children, screenings, support groups, a lending library, mastectomy supplies, wigs and hats, and guest rooms for out-of-town family. All of these services are free of charge. Check in your area for something similar; you might be surprised.
I do truly hate cancer...I can't tell you how much. But one great thing I've learned from this hated disease, is that people love and enjoy doing whatever they can to help. No one likes to feel helpless, and if they can't make the cancer go away, they sure as heck don't mind finding another way to help, and that is what the above organizations are doing. At some point or another, cancer touches us all, whether in first person or not. It's nice to know those of us who are in the trenches are surrounded by so many great people doing whatever they can to make our lives a little easier. Renews my faith in humankind. God bless you all.