Support services give not only information, but also encouragement and hope. There are many more than can possibly be listed here. The support groups and sources represented here deal with all types of cancers, including melanoma.
In addition, many cancer centers, hospitals, and medical centers maintain support groups for their patients and family members, or suggest places to go. Therefore, it is a good idea to ask your doctor or local hospital whether such a group is available near you.
American Academy of Dermatology: Its membership of 13,700 includes virtually all dermatologists in the US. It provides information and educational material on all aspects of melanoma, other skin cancers, and skin care. A “Find a Dermatologist” listing is offered on the website.
Web Site: www.aad.org
American Cancer Society: A major information source. Gives support to patients, survivors and caregivers, including seniors and minors.
Web Site: www.cancer.org
American Childhood Cancer Organization: A nationwide organization that offers support and advocacy to families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them. Informative books are provided free of charge to those with financial constraints.
Web Site: www.acco.org
American Melanoma Foundation: Maintains a support group in San Diego, CA. Advises anyone wanting to start a support group. Gives information about melanoma from screening to staging, including clinical trials that patients may wish to join.
Web Site: www.melanomafoundation.org
Angel Flight West: One of six regional Angel Flight organizations that work with Mercy Medical Airlifts to take patients to health care facilities or distant destinations free of charge.
Web Site: www.angelflightwest.org
Cancer Care Inc.:A call to the toll-free Cancer Care Counseling Line leads patients, their families, and caregivers to support services in the caller’s area. Individual counseling can be obtained by calling the same number. Information for professionals is also available.
Web Site: www.cancercare.org
Cancer Hope Network (Formerly CHEMOCare): Trained cancer survivors conduct a one-on-one support program that encourages patients to continue chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, and surgery, even in the face of adverse side effects.
Web Site: www.cancerhopenetwork.org
Corporate Angel Network: Space on corporate jets is given free of charge to cancer patients who must travel long distances for treatment.
Web Site: www.corpangelnetwork.org
Hill-Burton Free Hospital Care/Health Resources and Services Administration: Maintains a list of hospitals that offer free or reduced cost hospital care, based on family size and need, and gives information on meeting medical bills that are beyond the patient’s means. Sends out a free care brochure.
Telephone: 1-800-492-0359 (for Maryland residents)
Look Good...Feel Better: This program teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients during and after chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association.
Web Site: www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org
Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America: Health care professionals, parents of children with life-threatening illnesses, or the children themselves can apply. “I want to go. To be. To meet. To have.” Volunteers try to find ways to make these wishes come true free of charge.
Web Site: www.wish.org
Melanoma International Foundation: The phone number is a “patient navigation hotline” to help patients and their families gain a better understanding of the disease and where to go for treatment. Answers to questions and information are offered, mostly via e-mail, to people as far away as China.
Web Site: www.melanomaintl.org
Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF): Presents a series of six symposia on diagnosis and treatment each year for patients, their families, and health care professionals, with an opportunity to consult physician presenters. Manages www.mpip.org, a website enabling patients and others concerned about melanoma to share experiences.
Web Site: www.melanoma.org
Merkel Cell Carcinoma Seattle Support Group: A flexible, open discussion group, located in Seattle, WA, for anyone touched by MCC (patients, spouses, family and friends). This is an informal opportunity to meet others coping with MCC, share stories and information, answer questions and provide support. They have first hand knowledge and experience to share about treatments, clinical research trials and coping with MCC.
National Cancer Institute (NCI): The US government’s source of information on the latest cancer treatments and clinical trials, as well as insurance, hospice, and home care. Callers to the toll-free number can be referred to community activities and support services. Spanish speakers are available.
Web Site: www.cancer.gov
Telephone: 1-800-4-CANCER (422-6237)
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Survivor-led advocacy organization works exclusively on behalf of the country’s more than nine million cancer survivors and the millions more touched by this disease.
Web Site: www.canceradvocacy.org
Telephone: 1-877-NCCS-YES (622-7937)
National Family Caregivers Association: A grass roots organization that educates, supports, and speaks out on behalf of caregivers. By raising public awareness, NFCA strives to improve the caregiver’s quality of life.
Web Site: www.thefamilycaregiver.org
Partnership for Prescription Assistance: Provides a list of participating programs where patients can obtain free prescriptions.
Web Site: www.pparx.org
Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation: Dedicated to providing help and hope to underinsured patients who would otherwise be unable to afford high-cost specialty medications. PAN provides financial assistance through nearly 60 disease-specific programs designed to help patients being treated for certain chronic illnesses, rare diseases, and cancers. Financial assistance supports the cost-sharing obligations (i.e., co-pays, deductibles) of patients. Since 2004, PAN has provided nearly $400 million in financial assistance to more than 200,000 patients. Two of PAN’s programs are for patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma and metastatic melanoma.
Web Site: www.PANFoundation.org
Patient Advocate Foundation: Serves as an active liaison between the patient and the insurer, employer, and/or creditors to ensure access to care, maintenance of employment, and reservation of financial stability. Case managers, doctors, and attorneys work through the Foundation.
Web Site: www.patientadvocate.org
Vital Options® International: The Group Room®, a cancer radio talk show, is simulcast worldwide via satellite, allowing people to share information and experiences across great distances.
Web Site: www.vitaloptions.org
The Wellness Community/Cancer Support Community/Gilda’s Club Worldwide: Twenty “communities” nationwide provide emotional counsel and education to cancer patients and their loved ones. Professionally led support groups reduce feelings of isolation and restore hope — regardless of the stage of disease.
Web Site: www.cancersupportcommunity.org