No one can predict or plan for cancer. As shocking as the medical part of the diagnosis is, patients have so many other worries. In an ideal world, the patient would only have to focus on getting better. However, in reality, there are health insurance claims to worry about, a mortgage or rent to pay, and kids to feed. The stress of all the other factors often causes a patient to feel overwhelmed.
That doesn’t need to be the case. There are many ways in which individuals and companies can support cancer patients so they don’t feel alone in their journey to recovery.
1. Make Donations to Cover Non-Medical Expenses
As noted, for someone going through cancer treatment, worrying about finances is a big stressor. Add late payments or evictions to chemotherapy and radiation, and recovery can suffer. Companies can donate to breast cancer organizations that help with non-medical expenses such as rent or utilities.
Joining forces with specialized groups is a highly effective way to help. Charities that focus on a particular area can make your dollars go further. This is because they partner with other organizations to get preferred rates and services.
Your firm can encourage employees to make donations by promising to match their contributions. Not only can you raise a larger amount, but you’ll reap tax benefits at the end of the year.
2. Launch Creative Fundraising Products
Companies can also raise funds by coming up with unique products that raise awareness for specific types of cancers. Some launch fundraising items only in particular months such as October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Others have a product line available for purchase throughout the year.
The pink ribbon bagel by Panera Bread for instance, helps raise funds for different breast cancer organizations. On select days, 100% of proceeds of these cherry vanilla–flavored treats are donated to local cancer nonprofits.
Some salons partner with cancer organizations to donate hair for wigs. They can run promotions for discounts if customers donate several inches of hair. This can be very helpful for cancer patients who experience hair loss after chemotherapy. Getting a natural-looking wig may help them feel better and similar to what they looked like pre-diagnosis.
3. Donate Tissue for Research
Businesses don’t have to develop special products or spend a lot of money to help cancer patients. Just as companies host blood drives, they can also hold informational seminars about different topics. They can share with their employees that every individual can help with cancer research. One does not have to be a scientist to do so.
Your employees can support cancer patients each time they go for routine blood work, surgery, or a biopsy. When they undergo any of these procedures, they can give consent for the extra tissue to be donated to cancer research.
Researchers need tissue samples from different ethnicities, age groups, and medical conditions. This is how they can test whether a particular drug is working or not. If your team members know about this option, they can opt for it the next time they go for a procedure. It’s not scary or painful, and it doesn’t entail extra work or cost.
4. Organize Meal Trains
Research has shown that patients need to follow a balanced diet during treatment. However, meal prep is often the last thing on their mind. This is particularly true if they don’t have family or close friends nearby. If one of your employees has been diagnosed with cancer, the rest of your team can get together to develop a meal train. Employees can sign up online to choose a day that they can bring over a meal to their colleague who is ill.
The organizer can include any medical or religious dietary restrictions in the meal train’s description to ensure provided food is suitable. They can also mention how many people there are in the family so co-workers can bring appropriate amounts of food.
Your business can sponsor meal trains for cancer patients across the country even if they are not your company’s employees. There are several websites that organize such efforts. This is a great cause and good for your company’s image and PR as well.
5. Empower Employees
Companies should nurture a supportive work environment for any team member who has been diagnosed with cancer. If the employee chooses to share this information with management, they should be provided with all necessary resources.
HR can help the patient find support groups with professionals who can help them come to terms with their diagnosis. Talking to others can help the individual figure out next steps. They should be informed of organizations they can contact for specific help, such as connecting to cancer survivors or those in remission. Listening to success stories can boost morale and is good for mental health.
Your business should also offer flexible work arrangements to anyone with a cancer diagnosis. You can provide cancer patients additional paid time off so they can receive treatment and recover. Work with health insurance companies to extend coverage for transportation or lodging for out-of-town procedures.
It Takes a Village
Serious illnesses like cancer affect not only the patient, but the people around them. It can disrupt the lives of their spouse, parents, and children, too. Supporting cancer patients requires a compassionate approach that recognizes the unique challenges they face.
One person may not be able to do it all. But if workplaces, healthcare workers, friends, and family all pitch in, cancer patients can continue to live their best possible lives.