How Organizations Help Cancer Patients Financially
Many people donate to cancer research. In fact, millions are donated every year. Without question, breast cancer research and learning better ways to prevent and treat this disease are important. But what about the financial health of the patients while they are fighting breast cancer?
The sad truth is, patients often face tremendous financial hardship during treatment. Paying for treatment is taxing in itself, but missing work, traveling for care, and other expenses can exacerbate the strain.
"I was in treatment waiting rooms with other women who were debating stopping treatment to go back to work. Shortly after I found myself standing in line at a food bank to feed my five children.”—Molly MacDonald, Founder, Executive Director, SurThrivor™.
Thankfully, there are organizations that help cancer patients financially like Pink Fund. Find out more about Pink Fund, why supporting financial wellness is important, and how patients can access breast cancer financial assistance.
What Is Pink Fund?
Pink Fund is a non-profit breast cancer organization that provides financial assistance to patients assisting with non-medical expenses. While paying for treatment bears its own financial burdens, patients often struggle just to make ends meet, so they can continue treatment.
When you donate to breast cancer through Pink Fund, the funds are used to provide patients with financial stability as they go through treatment. Financial toxicity amid cancer treatment can be debilitating. Almost half of the patients in breast cancer treatment face financial hardships.
Some face financial challenges so severe that treatment adherence and even mortality are affected. The assistance provided by Pink Fund may be anything from rental assistance for cancer patients to utility payments. This much-needed financial support for breast cancer patients bridges the gap between treatment and recovery.
Where Can I Get Financial Assistance for Cancer Patients?
Pink Fund offers breast cancer financial assistance to patients who are in active treatment. However, there are other organizations out there that may offer some level of financial support for cancer patients.
Financial assistance for breast cancer patients may be available through both local and national organizations. You can often find resources locally simply by searching "resources for cancer patients near me." For example, you may find locally-based community organizations that help with certain needs like providing funds for utilities during treatment.
There are also many directories that offer information about where to get financial assistance for cancer patients. Pay close attention to these directories. Many also often offer a community message board where individuals can share their personal experiences with others about agencies that helped.
What Payments Can You Get If You Have Cancer?
Each organization that helps cancer patients financially may offer different types of payments. Many focus specifically on helping a patient with a certain aspect of their finances. For example, you may find organizations that offer:
- Free housing for cancer patients or help to cover shelter costs during treatment
- Free transportation assistance for cancer patients
- Free gas cards for cancer patients who have to travel for treatment
Pink Fund provides payments directly to creditors for housing, transportation, utilities, and insurance.
What Happens If You Have Cancer and Can't Afford It?
In an ideal world, a patient would receive a cancer diagnosis, immediately transition into treatment, and then enter recovery. Money would not be an issue throughout the process. However, many financial obstacles can arise during this process.
Individuals diagnosed with any type of cancer are more than twice as likely to have to file bankruptcy. And, breast cancer is said to be one of the most costly types of cancer to treat. Plus, the costs of treatment are only one part of the financial burden.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and cannot afford treatment, there are quite a few federal and state-funded programs to consider. These programs are designed to help with the costs of treatment. For example, you may find a government-funded program to help cover the costs of chemotherapy or surgery.
What Happens If You Have Cancer and No Money?
If you have cancer and no money to sustain yourself during treatment, it can be a scary situation.
The bigger challenge with affording cancer is often simply continuing to deal with living expenses during treatment. Treatment can be financially challenging if you have to miss work, give up your job, pay for additional childcare, and use your income to cover out-of-pocket costs of care.
Many patients are forced to forgo paying for living expenses simply to continue to get care. In these situations, working with an organization that can help cancer patients financially can be a saving grace.
Also, get your loved ones and care team involved. Let them know the financial burdens you are facing. Oftentimes, they can offer access to helpful resources, or loved ones can chip in and do what they can to make sure you are okay.
Can You Get Financial Aid If You Have Cancer?
Free money for cancer patients is possible, but possibly not in the form of a direct-payment grant. Organizations that help cancer patients financially or provide financial grants for cancer patients have different methodologies. Some organizations offer direct payments, but not all.
Pink Fund, for example, covers certain costs on behalf of the patient for up to 90 days. And, some patients may be eligible for longer assistance periods of 180 days. However, funds are never provided to the patient. Instead, funds go directly to the patient's creditor on that person's behalf to ensure the money is used as intended.
What Funds Are Available for Cancer Patients?
The funds available for cancer patients can vary depending on the organization you work with. Through Pink Fund, for instance, we offer funds to help cover the costs of living only, such as:
- Funds to cover utility payments, such as electric, water, or gas
- Funds to cover phone bills
- Funds to cover the costs of housing, such as rent or mortgage payments
- Funds to cover the costs of transportation, such as car payments or car insurance
- Funds to cover the costs of health insurance premiums
Pink Fund does not cover all bills. For example, credit card bills and student loan payments cannot be covered. However, our organization offers financial assistance payments designed to make meeting basic needs easier. The financial assistance may be as much as $3,000 in direct bill payments provided for the patient over a three-month term.
How Can a Cancer Patient Get Help?
Organizations that help cancer patients financially have different requirements when it comes to obtaining help. The most authentic organizations go to great lengths to ensure individuals requesting help are actually people who need the funds.
At Pink Fund, for example, we require a list of requirements to be met before an individual can apply for assistance. Patients must be in active treatment, must have been working at the time of diagnosis, and their household income must be 500% or less of the federal poverty level.
Before funding is approved to cover the costs of living, we require:
- A copy of the patient's state-issued picture ID
- A signed, dated letter from the patient's employer that proves current employment or leave status
- A medical information form with contact information for the medical treatment team
- A signed, dated letter to verify the diagnosis and treatment plan from an oncologist, patient navigator, nurse navigator, or licensed social worker
- A financial disclosure form
- Federal tax returns
- Copies of pay stubs
- Copies of bills the patient needs help with (Note, all bills must be in the name of the patient or listed household member)
- Rental or lease agreements
If you are looking for help with the costs of living, take a look at the full application checklist for Pink Fund.
How Do I Get Money for Someone with Cancer?
Seeing someone you love go through the financial woes of cancer treatment can be tough. However, many people are not financially capable of providing funding themselves. Yet, there are still things you may be able to do to find some level of financial support.
Hosting a fundraiser can be an effective way to secure funding for breast cancer financial assistance. Well-planned fundraisers can help you raise a lump sum of money for the individual that needs help relatively quickly.
There are many excellent fundraising ideas that may help you collect critical funds for the individual, such as:
- Hosting a charity auction - Invite donations from community businesses or individuals, spread awareness about the auction and cause, and then auction the items to the highest bidders.
- Planning a walkathon - Walkathons or marathons involve recruiting willing participants who will complete a walk, run, or marathon in an effort to spread awareness and raise money. The funds from these events usually come from participant entrance fees and any merchandise or concessions sold during the event.
- Creating a T-shirt fundraiser - T-shirt fundraiser websites allow you to create custom shirts to raise money. A good option is a website like Bonfire, which is free to use with no hidden costs.
- Selling something - From baked goods to candles and crafty items, a lot of people will buy items when they know the money is going toward a good cause. And, it is usually relatively easy to get several people involved in the efforts. For example, if you host a fundraising bake sale, ask several people to contribute something yummy.
- Hosting a car wash - Tried and true, car washes have always worked well for fundraising. Just be sure to charge a per-car price that covers the cost of your supplies and will leave enough profit to go toward the cause.
Crowdfunding platforms have grown increasingly popular for raising money for individuals with a cancer diagnosis as well. For example, Pink Lotus is a no-fee platform set up specifically for creating crowdfunding campaigns to support breast cancer patients. With enough effort, these platforms can be highly effective for raising funds.
If you are the caregiver of an individual who has been diagnosed with cancer, you may also be able to get help on their behalf through some organizations. Oftentimes, the individual going through breast cancer treatment lives with their spouse or another family member. Therefore, these caregivers or co-inhabitants may be able to help breast cancer patients apply for funding through different organizations.
How Do Organizations Donate to Breast Cancer?
Organizations that donate to breast cancer have different methods of fund distribution depending on the core mission of the entity. For example, if you donate to breast cancer research organizations, those funds will likely be given to a research facility. The research facility then uses those funds for things like organized clinical trials or to pay researchers.
By contrast, if you donate to Pink Fund, our mission is about supporting breast cancer patients financially. When we donate to breast cancer, those funds go to patient creditors directly. For example, a patient in active treatment may be struggling to pay for housing. Therefore, we may pay their mortgage directly for a few months, so they don't have to worry about losing their home.
By the end of 2022, Pink Fund had raised and donated more than $6 million to patients in the form of bill payments. You can see a full breakdown of how donations were handled by viewing the latest annual financial report.
Donate to Breast Cancer and Make a True Difference
“They tell you not to worry. They tell you stress is your enemy. Then you get a bill the size of two small houses. Without Pink Fund I would have to add homelessness to the list of things to deal with.”– Theresa S.
Society does a good job of financially supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer. However, we still have thousands of women being diagnosed with breast cancer every year that desperately need our help.
Are you looking for breast cancer organizations to donate to that make a direct difference in the lives of patients? Find out how to get involved as a donor or partner with Pink Fund's effort to help with the other part of the fight.