The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe has left many people feeling anxious about life and death issues – and even more so among those already living with or having just received a diagnosis of cancer. It can feel like there’s a lot to learn – but it doesn’t all have to happen at the same time.
Many people and their families can experience information overload as they struggle to come to terms with the disease, its treatments and the practical issues that go hand in hand with living with cancer.
As Monica Bryant, a cancer rights attorney and Chief Operating Officer at Triage Cancer, says: “There’s so much information to take on board and people often feel overwhelmed with having to become experts on their disease, the treatments, the medical facilities – not to mention the practical legal, employment and financial issues that can follow a cancer diagnosis.”
“We try to give people the information they need to decide what needs to be dealt with right now, and what can be pushed back until later.”
A cancer education
Triage Cancer helps to tackle this by making sure the right information is available when people need it, rather than bombarding them with everything at the start of their cancer journey.
Patients often tell their care team about practical or legal issues, for example, so Triage Cancer ensures healthcare professionals have the knowledge they need to respond effectively.
“They hear comments like ‘I don’t know how I’m going to pay my mortgage’ or ‘my boss is giving me a hard time about attending appointments during work hours’,” says Monica.
“So, we host training sessions for nurses, social workers and navigators working on the front line,” she adds, “to help professionals recognize these comments and help people get access to the resources and benefits they are entitled to.”
Taking a deep dive
The eight-hour training sessions, which started in 2017, take a “deep dive” into issues such as health insurance, disability insurance, employment rights and finances.
The advocacy group also provides printable quick guides on a particular legal or practical topic. “They’re a starting point to learn about various issues,” says Monica, adding that people should be able to access information in a way that works for them.
“We have Quick Guides, checklists and animated videos. We want to provide a diverse array of resources because we know not everybody learns in the same way.”
Helping people to tackle the practical issues surrounding cancer is paramount, she continues.
“Cancer isn’t necessarily the automatic death sentence it was even a decade ago. For many people, it can become a chronic disease. We have to address the practical and legal issues, otherwise quality of life is greatly diminished – and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” she concludes.