If you’re a young mom diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), managing your condition and taking care of your kids at the same time may seem daunting. Juggling the responsibilities of parenting while keeping up with doctor’s appointments, long hospital stays, a flood of new emotions, and the side effects of your medications may seem impossible to manage.
Fortunately, there are many resources you can turn to for advice and support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here are just some of the many resources available to you.
1. Cleaning services
Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit organization that offers free house cleaning for women undergoing treatment for any kind of cancer in North America. Enter your information on their website to be matched with a cleaning company near you.
2. Food preparation and delivery
Serving the Washington, D.C., area, Food & Friends is a nonprofit that provides meals, groceries, and nutrition advice to people living with cancer and other chronic illnesses. All meals are free of charge, but you need to be referred by a healthcare provider to be eligible.
Magnolia Meals at Home is another organization that provides nutritious meal deliveries for people with cancer and their families. Magnolia is currently available in parts of New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Connecticut, and New York. You’ll receive meals prepared to meet your nutritional needs for yourself and your family, if requested.
If you live elsewhere, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for information about food preparation and delivery in your area.
3. Camp for your kids
Summer camps can be a wonderful way for children to de-stress, find support, and go on a fun adventure.
Camp Kesem offers free summer camps for children with a parent who has or has had cancer. Camps are held at university campuses throughout the United States.
4. Free pampering
Cancer treatment can be far from relaxing. The nonprofit United Cancer Support Foundation provides “Just 4 U” Support Packages that include relaxing personalized gifts to use during cancer treatment.
Look Good Feel Better is another organization that can teach you beauty techniques throughout cancer treatment, like cosmetics, skin care, and styling.
5. Transportation services
The American Cancer Society can give you a free ride to your treatment. Simply call their toll-free number to find a ride near you: 800-227-2345.
Need to fly somewhere for your treatment? Air Charity Network provides free airline travel for patients with both medical and financial needs.
6. Clinical trial search
Breastcancertrials.org makes finding a clinical trial easy. As a busy mom, you probably don’t have the time or the patience to sift through the hundreds of clinical trials going on throughout the country.
With their personalized matching tool, you can identify the trial that fits your specific breast cancer type and your individual needs. By joining a clinical trial, you’ll not only have access to innovative treatments and emerging therapies for MBC, but you’ll be contributing to the future of breast cancer treatment.
7. Rally your friends with Lotsa Helping Hands
Your friends and family members probably want to help, but you may not have the time or focus to organize their help in the most effective way. People also tend to be more willing to help once they know exactly what you need. This is where an organization called Lotsa Helping Hands steps in.
Using their website or mobile app, you can assemble your community of helpers. Then, use their Help Calendar to post requests for support. You can request things like meals, rides, or babysitting. Your friends and family can sign up to help and the app will send them reminders automatically.
8. Social workers
Oncology social workers are trained professionals who work to help make the entire cancer experience easier for you and your children in any way they can. Some of their skills include:
- providing emotional support to reduce anxiety and increase hope
- teaching you new ways of coping
- helping you improve communication with your medical team and your children
- giving you information about treatment
- helping with financial planning and insurance
- giving you information about other resources in your community
Ask your doctor for a referral to an oncology social worker. You can also connect with a social worker by calling the nonprofit CancerCare’s Hopeline at 800-813-HOPE (4673).
9. Financial assistance programs
Medical bills can pile up in addition to expenses that come with raising children. There are many organizations that offer financial assistance to those in need. Ask your social worker for help applying for these forms of assistance:
- CancerCare Financial Assistance
- Needy Meds
- Patient Access Network Foundation
- The Pink Fund
- American Breast Cancer Foundation
- The U.S. Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs
Most pharmaceutical companies also offer drugs at reduced prices or will provide a coupon to cover any copay expenses. You can find detailed information about eligibility and coverage on the pharma company’s website or on the website for the particular brand of medication you’re prescribed.
Your children may have a difficult time coping with your cancer diagnosis. It’s important to maintain communication with them, but getting the conversation started can be difficult.
Here are a few books that aim to help parents talk to their children about cancer and treatment:
- In Mommy’s Garden: A Book to Help Explain Cancer to Young Children
- What’s Up with Bridget’s Mom? Medikidz Explain Breast Cancer
- Nowhere Hair: Explains Your Cancer and Chemo to Kids
- Nana, What’s Cancer?
- Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings
- A Pillow for My Mom
- Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo
Blogs are an excellent way to read stories of others going through some of the same experiences as you.
Here are a few blogs to browse for trusted information and a community of support:
- Young Survival
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer
- Let Life Happen
- My Cancer Chic
- Breast Cancer? But Doctor… I Hate Pink!
- Some Girls Prefer Carnations
12. Support groups
Meeting other women and moms who share your diagnosis can be a huge source of support and validation. A support group that is specifically dedicated to patients with metastatic disease may be the most helpful to you. METAvivor's Peer to Peer Support Groups can be found across the United States.
You can also ask your healthcare provider or social worker if there are any local MBC support groups they recommend.
13. One-on-one mentors
You shouldn’t face cancer alone. If you’d prefer a one-on-one mentor instead of group support, consider finding a “Mentor Angel” with Imerman Angels.
14. Trusted educational websites
It can be tempting to google everything about MBC, but there can be a lot of misinformation, outdated information, and incomplete information online. Use these trusted websites to help answer your questions.
Ask your doctor for more information if you can’t find your answers from these websites:
- National Breast Cancer Foundation
- American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
- Metastatic Breast Cancer Network
- Susan G. Komen Foundation
15. If you’re pregnant
If you’re pregnant and diagnosed with cancer, Hope for Two…The Pregnant with Cancer Network offers free support. The organization can also connect you with others who are currently pregnant with cancer.
Seek help when you need it. Your energy may be limited while you undergo cancer treatment, so prioritization is key. Asking for help isn’t a reflection of your capabilities. It’s part of doing your very best to care for your children as you navigate life with MBC.