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Taking a Break from Cancer

June 1, 2016

I know, there are dozens of cancer charities out there, but I think that there is a need for one more and I would like to start it.  Most of the cancer charities that currently exist raise money primarily for research.  This is certainly important, but there are real needs for the people who are dealing here and now with the reality of cancer treatment. These needs are not nearly as likely to be addressed.  Since my wife and I have been through this routine now four times, I believe that I have some insight into an area of need that I believe could be of major benefit to cancer patients and their partners/caregivers.

I first got the idea from looking at the work that is done by “Make a Wish” for kids.  The idea is to give kids with serious illness to get a break from their daily struggles and allow them to do something that they would really like to do or meet someone who is special to them.  This is a wonderful program and provides a positive diversion for families that are engaged to very difficult reality.

Adult cancer patients face a very similar reality.  They must cope with the emotional challenges in addition to their physical challenges.  The treatment may be conducted over an extended period of time.  The toll of treatment is devastating for the patient.  I have written more about this subject in earlier blogs on this site.  Treatment may lead to a cure in some cases, but even in these cases it may well take months before the patient is able to return to something that may approach their normal life.  For other patients the treatment may only push back on the cancer for a time with the full knowledge that the  likelihood of recurrence is almost certain.  For still others there may be no effective treatment available other than palliative care.

Persons in any of these three groups could really use a break for diversion from the present struggles.  The partners/caregivers also face the emotional and psychological stresses along with the patient and are in need of relief.  For those with substantial financial resources this may not present a problem.  For many of more modest means they much deal with the additional financial burdens brought on by their illness and may simply not be able to afford what might seem to many a luxury of time away.  As a result they muddle on with their difficulties without any relief.  I can speak from personal experience in this regard.  We have thought about, talked about, planned for, and hoped for an opportunity to really get away for several days but we have not been able to pull together more than a day or two.

Here is what I have come up with as a suggestion.  I propose founding a charity that would provide an opportunity for cancer patients and their partners/caregivers to get away for five days at no expense to them.  The charity would provide transportation, lodging, meals, and entertainment.  The place for the escape could be a beach or mountain resort, a place like Disney World, or possibly a cruise.  It is important that it be a place away from where they live and deal with the daily realities of their treatment.  It could be somewhere in the middle of their treatment protocol or shortly after treatment is completed.  Consideration would need to be given to their physical capabilities at the time of the travel.  For example air travel or dealing with crowds would not be wise for someone with a compromised immune system.  Or, if they are physically weakened, a long hike on the Appalachian Trail would not be feasible.  They should have major input as to what type of place that they would like to go and enjoy.

As little cash as possible would be given directly to the recipient, as this would provide the temptation to use the resource for other needed expenses.  This is intended to provide a time away without worry about the expenses.  Travel and lodging would be prepaid directly to the providers.  Meal plans should be prepaid as well as entertainment to whatever extend possible.  While it is not necessary to think in terms of luxury for this trip it should be comfortable and nice.

The charity would need to raise funds to cover these times away.  Perhaps there would be resorts, airlines, etc. that would be willing to provide in kind services as donations to the charity.  The charity would also need to develop and implement a procedure to accept and screen potential recipients.  The charity should make every effort to keep to a minimum the operational expenses of the charity.

This is just a brief overview of the things that I have been thinking about.  I would be very interested in receiving feedback about the concept or ideas that anyone might have about the implementation.  I believe that this is a solid concept, the questions relate to the possibility of making it a reality.


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