There have been a number of blog posts this month about Cleaning For A Reason, a non-profit organization that sets up free housecleaning for women undergoing treatment for cancer. Despite its exclusion of men, this is a phenomenal service that is desperately needed.
How it works: The application process opens at 12noon Central Time, Monday through Thursday, and they accept a maximum of 50 applications each day. However, the demand is such that they accept approximately 8 applications a minute once it’s activated. Therefore, the application process is open for approximately 6 minutes.
Everyone agrees: this is needed. Cancer patients love it, families benefit. A clean, organized space is something you deserve to come home to after a day in chemotherapy. It’s good for your health, it’s great for your family, and it’s a load off the mind. But if more than 50 people need this help per day – as indicated by the six-minute time window you have to sign up – then we should be doing all we can to get more cleaning services to donate their time. Instead of helping less patients, let’s rally more support.
Find your state. See who partners with this program. It could be as easy as calling the cleaning services not on the list and explaining how they can help. The main requirements are being licensed or bonded, and doing background checks on employees and volunteers.
From different perspectives, there are different solutions. If you don’t want to rally the cleaning troops, you can offer to clean someone’s house as a more personal donation – or pair up with a friend and tackle it together. Either way, you’re meeting the need of a cancer patient who truly needs, wants, and appreciates it.
Don’t have time for cleaning, but still want to help? Check out ChemoAngels.net. There are different levels of commitment – Chemo Angel, Card Angel, Support Angel. There is an application process and you must be approved, which usually takes two weeks to a month. You’re matched with someone starting IV chemotherapy, and send them weekly things – gifts, cards, flowers, you name it – to delight or distract them. As a Card Angel, I send my patient 1-2 cards per week knowing it’s a one-way street. I print out funny cartoons, send doodles, share my (positive) experiences, and cheer her on in every way I can. It takes very little time to make someone’s day.
From the Navigating Cancer website also comes a logistical way to help those with cancer. If you’re a patient, you can invite friends and family to view your calendar – or everyone on the site! – which includes your immediate needs. If you need a ride to an appointment, you can post that on your calendar, which notifies your supporters. If you need help cleaning house, or a birthday cake for your youngest, or maybe childcare for a hospital stay – those needs can be posted and filled by your support team. Asking for and receiving help should be this easy.
There are so many ways to support people going through chemo or living with cancer, and this is just a few. Find the one that works for you. The impact you have will change people’s lives… or at least make their lives more manageable.
I had an interesting conversation this week with Dr. Ethan Basch from Memorial Sloan Kettering. He is a medical oncologist focused on prostate cancer and a leading researcher on the impact and value of patients reporting their treatment side effects and the impact that has on quality patient care.
Recently he received a grant from the NCI to create patient descriptions for the language that physicians use to report side effects in clinical trials. This will be a meaningful step to help patients and physicians use the same language in reporting toxicities, which should improve patient/doctor communications and prove that patient self reporting ultimately improves patient care.
I was excited to speak to him and learn about his research and what he’s learned through the process. It’s great to know there are physicians studying better methods to impact quality care and how to best engage patients in the process. You can read more about his research here.
Clearly this is another example of the positive impact on quality care that can occur by having patients be an active participant in their care. The paradigm is shifting and we at Navigating Cancer are excited to be a part of the movement.
We’re excited to announce some exciting new features to the Daily Health Tracker to make it easier to keep track of your health. We’re passionate about giving you easy to use tools to keep track of how you’re feeling, your symptoms and side effects from therapy and the medications your taking so you can easily stay in control and communicate more effectively with your health care team. To do this, we’ve added the following features:
- Mini-Calendar – With the mini-calendar you can go directly to the day that you want to add your side effects, medications, and health notes. You can easily see which days you’ve taken your medications and when you’ve recorded your tracker entries.
- Health Notes – Now you can easily record how you’re feeling or something that’s happened that you want to keep track of. You can save multiple notes per day, which are time stamped so you know what time they happened.
Coming soon, your health notes will be included in your Prepare for Doctor Visit report. We’d love to hear from you about how this report is helping you prepare for your doctor visits and communicate more effectively with your healthcare team.
Thanks to each of you for your continued support and feedback. We’re listening so keep the feedback coming!
– The Navigating Cancer Team
Backed by the International Union Against Cancer and the World Health Organization, February 4th has been named World Cancer Day. Cancer is becoming increasingly preventable but when it’s not, we want patients to be able to take control of their care. At Navigating Cancer, we are committed to help patients navigate their journey by providing the tools and resources necessary to partner with their doctors.
With our launch just two weeks ago, we are excited to announce that thousands of patients have accessed Navigating Cancer! Our goal for you is to have a copy of your own health record. With a cancer diagnosis, you will see a number of healthcare providers in a variety of settings and locations. Some of the time, your providers might not have all the information about your care. You should know your treatments, your lab results, and the basic information for your care. This will help you communicate more effectively with your healthcare team.
Organizing your care has never been so easy, with Navigating Cancer, we believe these three main components will empower you as a patient:
- Your own health record: Create a secure record of your treatments and medications including surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments.
- Daily Health Tracker: Easily track your health and side effects to better understand what’s happening and help you manage your condition.
- Prepare for appointments: Maximize the time you spend with your doctor and communicate your issues more effectively by using our reports
Since our launch, not only have patients been tracking their health but they have also been providing us feedback. We’re looking forward to continuing to learn from patients so we can create the most useful application to help patients keep track of their health and more effectively partner with their healthcare team.
Log onto www.navigatingcancer.com today to begin and stay tuned as we continue to update you on our progress!
Interested in what people are saying about Navigating Cancer after our launch this week? Click on the links below to find out!