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Help is available for breast cancer patients

The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer sometime during her life is just about one in eight.

Once diagnosed, breast cancer patients and their families go through a myriad of emotions and deal with seemingly insurmountable odds.

But help is just a phone call away.

The American Cancer Society offers free services for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Kathy Chessher of the American Cancer Society-Beaumont, said the hot line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“When you call that number as a cancer patient, or family member or friend, you will be connected with a cancer information specialist who is ready to help the caller no matter what time of day,” Chessher said.

The American Cancer Society can be reached at 1-800-227-2345.

Help is also available via the web at cancer.org

The assistance covers a wide range of issues, from treatment to understanding the illness, insurance information, financial resources, transportation, lodging and locating support groups in the area, to name a few.

“ACS offers various programs and services to help people cope while fighting their illness,” she said.

Road to Recovery

Road to Recovery is a transportation program that pits volunteer drivers with patients who need a ride to treatment appointments and back home.

“Many times, as we know, if you have cancer and are going to treatment, you don’t feel good enough to go alone,” she said. “Sometimes a spouse, or friend or son or daughter has to work and cannot make the trip and the patient may not feel well enough to drive.”

Lodging during treatment as well as gas cards are also offered by the ACS.

“Sometimes treatment requires an overnight stay because the location of where the treatment is offered may be a long drive. We can make arrangements with motels to provide overnight accommodations,” she said. “And with the price of gas still high, these kinds of costs add up, and before you know it, you’ve spent an astronomical amount of money.”

Reach to Recovery

Reach to Recovery is a cancer support group that focuses mainly on breast cancer.

When a person is newly diagnosed, there is a group of volunteers who are also cancer survivors who will lend their time and emotional support.

“They will sit down with them and visit, tell them what to expect and answer questions from the perspective of being a survivor,” she said. “And who better to visit a person that’s very afraid and going through a lot of emotions, than a person who can provide the emotional understanding and guidance they need at that time.”

Personal care

Making a woman feel whole again is another goal of the ACS. Sometimes when a woman begins radiation or chemotherapy treatments, they will lose their hair, which can take a toll on a woman’s well-being. The ACS offers free wigs, turbans and other such items to help the woman feel better about herself.

Bras and prosthetics are also offered free of charge for breast cancer patients as well as skin care products.

“Many times when women go through treatment they forget to take care of themselves and take care of their skin,” she said. “This program will help teach them to take care of themselves.”

The ACS partners with cosmetic companies across the United States and cosmetic products are all donated. The cancer patient is given a demonstration on how to apply the makeup and they “learn to feel beautiful again.”

The ACS works with people affected by all types of cancer, not just breast cancer.

“Everything we offer is 100 percent free,” she said. “You do not have to qualify based on financial status or insurance. A cancer patient is a cancer patient to us.”

For more information, call the ACS hotline at 800-227-2345 or visit their website, cancer.org.

mmeaux@panews.com