I was so blessed to speak with Dawn Guerrero of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on the podcast about all of the amazing cancer support resources that this wonderful organization offers.
I think that it can’t be stated enough that support from a community is so important to cancer patients and their families. Dawn is the patient and community outreach manager for the leukemia and lymphoma society in her region, and she had so much to share about the incredible resources and support that are available to patients with blood cancers.
Blood cancer is rarer than most other forms of cancer, and it doesn’t get a lot of advertising in the community. Information is usually shared directly one on one, and you typically hear about it from your Cancer Center. It’s interesting to note though that 30% of the blood cancer treatments that have been created in the past 10 years are now being used to treat other cancers.It’s incredible to know that the funds raised by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) are benefiting patients even beyond blood cancers!
First, let’s talk about the peer-to-peer connection match program. It's the Patti Robinson Kauffman First Connection Program, and the LLS community often refers to it as “first connection”. This program matches a patient up with a trained patient volunteer who's further along in their journey, and who can be there as a mentor or support system. This is what makes it peer-to-peer, and it’s such a great resource for patients. It’s even thought to improve outcomes! There are a couple different ways to apply for it. You can go to the website and request a first connection. That message gets sent to the regional outreach manager to get started. Another way is to ask your nurse or social worker at your cancer center for that match program. They will send the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society a referral, and then LLS will reach out and get some more information from you and match you up with someone.
LLS also provides nutrition consultations at no charge. They have a dedicated dietician on staff who can do that. As I’ve talked about before, nutrition is so important in your cancer journey. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will actually provide this for any cancer diagnosis - any patient can get a nutrition consultation with them. It’s such a great resource to tap into!
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also offers financial assistance programs. They have several of those, including copay assistance. That program can cover anywhere from $3,000 to $11,000, which someone can use to pay for their health insurance premiums or out of pocket costs including copays, oncology related expenses, prescriptions, etc.
They also have travel assistance, which comes and goes throughout the year. You can apply for that every six months. This travel assistance is money that can be used for gas or car repairs, hotel stays, and flights. You don't actually have to be traveling far for that either. If you're undergoing treatment sometimes you're in that cancer center several days a week, so having that for things like the extra gas money can be a big relief at times.
There’s another program that's called an Urgent Need program, and it provides $500 that can be used for anything - groceries, paying bills like utilities, etc. This is the only one that the patient can’t apply for themselves. For this program you would need to get your health care provider to apply for you.
There are also resources for caregivers and family. You can find out more by calling 1-800-955-4572. The caregiver will receive a package in the mail containing a variety of different resources. They include everything from tools to stay organized, stress management tips, suggestions of what kinds of questions to ask the doctor, and more. Cancer doesn’t just impact the patient and I love that LLS supports family and caregivers in this journey.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also offers monthly educational programs, as well as bigger conferences once or twice a year. Those are normally free for you as well.
Knowing all these resources are available can be so helpful, especially resources that build on community and connection. Having that sense of community is vital to better outcomes in cancer recovery.