Cancer Patient Guide

[ Dealing With Problems ]

Getting Emotional Help

A diagnosis of cancer is stressful enough to cause a wide range of feelings: fear, sadness, despair, and anger. Everyone experiences these feelings at some point. However, just because these feelings are to be expected does not mean that you should deal with them by yourself. People who face these feelings rather than deny them appear to cope better with their cancer treatment. Your doctor, hospital social worker, or oncology nurse can direct you to general counseling, during which a therapist can help you work through important psychological or family issues, including feelings of confusion, fear, anger, denial, or depression. Support groups may be useful as well. These groups consist of patients who have had similar experiences and who meet periodically to talk with one another. Support groups are also available for your family and friends. In addition, spiritual guidance and support are of great benefit to many patients and their families.

Dealing With Financial Issues

Talk with your doctor’s office manager, or a hospital financial representative about your insurance coverage. They are experienced in dealing with insurance issues and know how to ask the right questions about your coverage. Ask them to speak to your insurance company or HMO for you. Read your insurance policy carefully to verify your coverages and limits. Nevertheless, remember, this is complicated and contains medical and legal jargon that you may not understand. Never assume that you are not entitled to some form of service. Talk to an office representative or hospital advisor about whether you qualify. Talk to your employer about possible disability insurance payments for income maintenance.

Facing Limited Funds or No Health Insurance

Be sure to consider the following if you have financial difficulties or no health insurance.

  • Most hospitals and cancer centers have social workers who can help determine eligibility for financial assistance and help fill out the necessary forms.
  • You may automatically be eligible for MediCal if you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • You may qualify for MediCal under the “medically needy” category.
  • You may qualify for Veterans’ administration care.
  • Contact the 1-800-4CANCER telephone service.