42 children each day are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. This amounts to approximately 10,450 children per year. As a result, more than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer annually. The growing number of children with cancer means that more families will experience tremendous amount of financial pain to provide the best treatment and medical care for their child.
Childhood cancer has a survival rate of more than 5 years (80 percent). Although the number of children affected by cancer is low, the rates of cancer for the past few decades have continued to rise.
Helping Kids With Cancer And Their Families With Medical Debt
Before you start helping kids with cancer, is it important to understand how children and their families are financial impacted.
Often the cost of childhood cancer is complex and difficult to predict. Families even with personal savings can find themselves paying thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs for their child.
Treatment such as therapy that may be effective in helping relive pain for children with cancer can often have a cap or limit under health insurance covers. According to a study published by the American Childhood Cancer Organization, 3 out of 10 families spend $2,500 to $10,000 for out of pocket costs on additional medical expenses not covered by insurance including therapy. Other expenses such as home care, pain management, medical equipment, lab procedures and nutritional supplements are also limited or not covered at all.
Costs that are non-medical related also play a huge role in medical debt families take on. 6 out of 10 families spend $1,000 to $10,000 out of pocket on additional non-medical expenses. These include vital costs such as hospital parking, transportation to and from medical care, lodging for long-distance treatment, childcare expenses and meals away from home.
One of the biggest impacts on families when a child falls ill with cancer is the ability for parents to continue to work full time. Families particularly who earn less than $65,000 per year of combine income will be most affected. This has been most difficult when at least one parent has to forgo employment in order to care for their child. 27% of parents spent more than 40 hours a week taking care of their child with cancer.
Parents are forced to work less to care for their child, where 2 out of 5 family households had at least one adult cut back work by half. This means the income per household is smaller, while the medical expenses continue to rise.
Not only will parents have to pay for medical expenses for their child with cancer, there can also be further financial expenses even after beating cancer. According to CureSearch, 60 percent of children who survive cancer however will have further complications and health impacts that can occur later on. These include infertility, heart failure and even secondary cancers. For parents and loved ones, this can be devastating both emotionally and financially.
3 Best Ways To Help Kids With Cancer
When it comes to helping kids with cancer, there are many ways to help give support. Here are 3 most effective and useful ways to help children with cancer.
1. Financial assistance for childhood cancer patients
There are many programs, support schemes and organizations that help parents with a child who has cancer. However, these financial assistance options for children with cancer will have restrictions and limitations for many families struggling with medical debt.
Often families who are not below the poverty line or are not considered low-income earners still struggle with paying medical bills. In fact, over 10 million adults who have medical debt have insurance. This can happen when a parent has to stop working or when there are major medical expenses that are not covered by the health insurer. It can be very frustrating as there are limited financial assistance programs and options that they will be eligible for.
Given the financial impact on families when a child is diagnosed with cancer, one of the best ways to provide support to someone you know experiencing financial hardship is by helping them with financial aid.
The most effective and commonly used when seeking financial aid is through the generosity of family and friends.
According to American Childhood Cancer Organization, 57 percent of families end up receiving help from family and friends directly to pay for medical expenses. This can be in the form of a in-kind donation or even a no-interest loan.
One way of helping kids with cancer and their family is by creating a free medical fundraising page on their behalf. Whether you are a parent yourself, a friend, a family member or even someone in the community who wants to help a child with cancer, you can setup a fundraising page very easily. Medical fundraising online is an easy process for anyone interested in helping a family pay for medical treatment for a child with cancer.
Before starting a fundraiser, it is best to speak directly with the parent or guardian in order to get consent to set up a fundraiser online. Often parents will also take a proactive role in setting up the fundraiser themselves and seeking help from family and friends to spread the word. Auctions, fundraising events and prizes can also help boost your fundraising efforts tremendously.
These ideas can also be easily linked to an online fundraiser. One of the benefits of doing so is to allow supporters all around the world to participate and show their support without any geographical restrictions. It also means supporters are not required to attend a certain fundraising event you’ve setup. Instead, they can also donate online to show their support.
Online medical fundraisers are a quick and easy way of reaching out to family and friends. You can raise thousands of dollars within a few days of launching your fundraiser.
2. Lending A Hand To Parents
Parents are often overwhelmed and exhausted with the amount of stress, pressure and responsibility placed on them when a child falls ill. They are constantly fighting for their child’s life and do not have time for many activities or duties that they would often attend to.
As a result, parents can feel overwhelmed with too much burden on their shoulders. Helping a parent that you know can also be an effective way to show your support.
The best way to help a friend or family member would be by having an open conversation with them on how you can help. They may have suggestions in mind of what would be most useful and helpful. You can also provide suggestions of ways you can help which you feel would be more effective in giving support. For example, you could look after their kids, clean the house while they are at the hospital or make the family a warm dinner. Often these gestures do not need to be grand, but just the fact that you are willing to help in whatever way possible can mean a lot.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, parents can react in many ways. Commonly, they can feel a sense of shock, guilt, anger, be in denial and/or are devastated from the news. Treatment for children with cancer can take up to 2 years on average. This can be a draining experience both physically and emotionally for parents. As a friend or family member, there are many ways to help out a loved one in need. One example is by making sure they take care of themselves. Getting sleep, eating well and even taking time off from the whole situation can be difficult for parents to do. You can help by getting them food or by looking after their child in hospital while they go home and rest for a few hours.
Apart from the financial burden that can come when a child is diagnosed with cancer, there are also mental and emotional impacts on the parent. The emotional distress can have major impact that can lead to breakdowns, broken family structures and make everyday tasks more difficult to cope with.
Lending an ear as a form of support can make a huge difference for a parent to cope with these ever changing and urgent circumstances. Being a good listener will allow a parent to be able to share and vent out what’s on their mind. This can also give them a sense of relief and greater support like no other.
3. In-kind Gifts
Every child deserves to be happy. Undergoing medical treatment such as chemotherapy for cancer can be extremely painful, especially for children. Side effects from such treatments like nausea, vomiting, fatigue and even aches and pains all over the body can impact a child’s ability to function everyday. This may also affect schoolwork.
In-kind gifts are great ways of helping kids with cancer deal with pain and side effects from treatment. These gifts from family and friends can help take the pain away of these treatments by distracting the child with positive rewards. These can often help give support and encouragement.
When a child falls ill, it can also have huge impacts on their early development, particularly for infants under the age of 7 years. Hospital arrangements can make it difficult for children to continue schooling and education.
According to CLIC Sargent’s report entitled ‘No child with cancer left out‘, which conducted consultations with 221 parents, 60 children and 18 hospitals, 70 percent or over two out of three children attend some form of hospital schooling.
In-kind gifts such as educational products, books and interactive games can be helpful in allowing the child to continue to develop. These gifts can be a complementary resources for the child who may be attending educational or schooling programs within the hospital.
Children who are already attending school and are now admitted to a hospital for cancer treatment may require one on one assistance for their schooling. It can be a helpful idea to hire a tutor to come in once a day can also assist the child with their schooling.
A major social impact for children with cancer is the ability to keep in contact with friends from school. The report conducted by CLIC Sargent found that 47 percent of children had grown apart from friends due to their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Arranging for their school friends to visit every week or as often as they can will help maintain social skills and familiarity.
Receiving cancer treatment is a painful and often traumatic experience for children. It can also mean broken patterns in their everyday lifestyle and family structure. To have greater sense of structure and routine in their everyday life, non-monetary gifts such as such as spending time with them can help. As a result, the child can have something to look forward to everyday.
Being cooped up in the hospital can make anyone feel frustrated and trapped. In-kind gifts such as toys, books and arranging activities within the hospital can be great ways to keep a child distracted from their illness. It can help make their time in hospital more enjoyable.
1) 10 Best Children’s Hospitals for Cancer Care 2013: http://www.parents.com/health/doctors/best-childrens-hospitals-for-cancer-care/
2) Childhood Cancer Statistics: http://www.curesearch.org/Childhood-Cancer-Statistics/
3) Childhood Cancer: http://www.acco.org/information/aboutchildhoodcancer/childhoodcancerstatistics.aspx
4) Financial Impact of Childhood Cancer: https://www.acco.org/AwarenessAdvocacy/Awareness/FinancialImpact.aspx
5) Late and long-term effects of treatment of childhood leukemia: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemiainchildren/detailedguide/childhood-leukemia-after-long-term-effects
6) Child’s cancer can batter family’s finances: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2005-08-31-health-care-crunch-hansons_x.htm
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