Top Resources for Support During Your Head and Neck Cancer Journey
Bethany Kandel | May 10, 2018
Cancers of the head and neck make up about 4 percent of all cancers in the United States. Because they often affect a very visible part of the body and can cause a range of life-impacting complications, these cancers can be especially challenging for patients. If you have been diagnosed with one of these cancers, you may need information, resources, and support — both emotionally and financially. Here are some ways to find the help you need.
Educate yourself about head and neck cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with head and neck cancer, learning more about your condition can help you advocate for yourself. There is a plethora of information, online and off, from different resources to help you get familiar with these cancers. See HealthCentral’s content on head and neck cancer diagnosis, treatment, complications, and more, or find information at another reputable site like that of the National Cancer Institute.
Make valuable connections
Meeting others who have a similar cancer can be helpful. The nonprofit organization Support for People With Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC), with 125-plus local chapters around the U.S., offers various support programs to meet the psychosocial needs of patients through its resources and publications. Find a chapter near you: 800-377-0928.
Join a welcoming community
You and your loved ones can find peer-to-peer support and a safe, welcoming community when you join Inspire, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance’s free online community. Start or respond to discussions with others who face a similar experience and understand what you are going through. Check them out online or call 866-792-4622
Chat with others with your cancer type
If you have oral cancer, specifically, you can connect with others with this cancer in the online support forums on the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website. Here, you can ask questions, share ideas and opinions, and learn from others who are also dealing with oral cancer.
Get financial support
Need financial help during cancer treatment? Contact the American Cancer Society to find a local office serving your area. Resources and reimbursement for transportation, medicine, and other services varies. National Cancer Information Specialists are available 24 hours a day at 800-227-2345.
The HNC Living Foundation also offers limited financial aid based on income for those in active treatment.
Get where you need to go
Cancer is expensive. To help, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance has a gas card program that supplies a limited supply of $50 gift cards to patients to help with transportation to and from treatment.
Find a mentor who gets it
National Survivor Volunteer Network matches newly diagnosed patients, caregivers, and their families with someone who has walked in their shoes. All volunteers have had a type of head and neck cancer and can help you by sharing the wisdom they’ve gained about treatment, recovery, side effects, and more. Cancer Hope Network does the same.
Read about others on your path
Reading stories about others who have gone through what you are going through can be uplifting and therapeutic. For example, read about how one man diagnosed with throat cancer turned his cancer story into a memoir, working to raise awareness for HPV vaccination. The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance also offers personal stories from survivors — the newly diagnosed, those in treatment, as well as those post-treatment — to inspire and support others.
Get moving again after cancer
There are resources out there specifically for head and neck cancer survivors, too. Do you want to get back in shape after cancer and meet others in the process? Livestrong at the YMCA offers free or low cost customized exercise regimens for cancer survivors. Instructors are trained in cancer survivorship, post-rehabilitation exercise, and supportive cancer care.
Remember: You are not alone
From diagnosis to survivorship, having head and neck cancer can be a challenging, emotionally and financially taxing journey. These websites, groups, and organizations are full of people who are ready and waiting to provide the support you need. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of resources available to you.