Our mission in action
Helping head and neck cancer patients live life fully, during and after treatment, through support of . . .
Patient Support Services
Uninsured and unable to work, “Michael’s” cancer treatment required prescriptions and tube feeding nutrition, neither of which he could afford. He and his young daughter moved in to live with his parents who tried to provide what support they could, but it was putting a financial strain on them. Through Cancer Action’s Patient Services Program funded by HNC Living, “Michael” was able to receive ten cases of tube feeding nutrition and the medications he needed. “Michael’s” feeding tube has now been removed, permitting him to eating and he has been taken off of all pain medications so he is now able to drive and, perhaps, someday return to work. As the family wrote, “It was nice to have a home base to go to, especially in the beginning and we were grateful for the supplies and support.” Michael’s mother and grandmother also have started making pillows for Cancer Action clients as a way to give back to other families.
“Mary” has benefited greatly from the HNC Living financial assistance support at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka, KS. When she was first seen, her head and neck cancer was large and she had significant weight loss. She lived more than 70 miles from our cancer center, had just started a new job, but was now unable to work and she was about to be uninsured. She required twice a day radiation (6 hours between treatments) for six and a half weeks. So, she had several obstacles to overcome for treatment. Through the HNC Living grant and the St. Francis Foundation, we have been able to pay for lodging in Topeka so she could get to her twice-a-day treatments, we paid her COBRA premiums, paid for prescriptions, nutritional services, and paid for her dental evaluation and needed dental treatments, and physical, occupational, and speech therapies services. After completing her radiation treatments, she was seen for follow-up and she is recovering well from treatment. We will continue to assess her for future needs as she continues to recover. St. Francis Hospital (Topeka)
Specialized Services and Therapies
Prior to my rare cancer diagnosis, I was an active 20-something who did house projects, constant yard work, biking, hiking and skiing. Then after several surgeries and a huge dosage of radiation to the skull, neck, and spine, I was left with limited energy and range of motions, plus abysmal strength. It became difficult to even live in my old Prairie Village home (which is quite the fixer upper.) Something as small as gripping a paint brush caused tension, pain and fatigue within minutes. We joked that my 4-year- old niece was stronger than me — and it wasn’t far from the truth. The damaged tissue in my neck caused issues in my shoulders and back. I went 18 months without being able to lift my arms above my head, and that was with physical therapy. The yoga class has been very beneficial and enlightening for me.
I am a head & neck cancer survivor. My occupational therapist convinced me to participate in a yoga series. She explained that because I had radiation treatment, I would continue to have difficulty with tightness and poor posture in my neck and back. She said the gentle stretching and strength training of yoga would assist me in maintaining my recovery. I went in a bit skeptical. I hadn’t had much experience with yoga but thought it might not be something I would enjoy. After my experience in the yoga classes, I can, without a doubt, say that it is making a huge difference for me. My flexibility and posture have been much improved. I remain much more conscious of my posture as I move through the day. The stretching and strength training has not only helped the surgery and treatment area of my neck, but it has also improved the lower back issues that I have dealt with for years. I have recently been out of town for an extended sabbatical from work. I missed being around for the yoga classes so much that I bought a subscription to an online yoga class that I do each morning. I have even gotten my wife to join me. I am very thankful that she convinced me to try it. Now that I am back in town, I will definitely be rejoining the group.
I am a participant in the yoga program administered by Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing. Thanks to a grant from HNC Living Foundation, a group of survivors in a specialized yoga group have benefitted by concentrating on improving our breathing, posture and flexibility.
Due to the effects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, our group has limited range of motion in our shoulders, neck and mouth. This yoga group is absolutely the best yoga experience because of the guidance and proper technique taught so that we are properly performing the yoga poses.
I am sincerely grateful to the HNC Living Foundation for funding this yoga group. The lessons learned will be a lifetime benefit.
Cancer is a scary thing to go through, but for some reason, I always felt as if I was going to make it through my treatment. However, one of the side effects of the cancer affected me more than any of the others on an emotional level. I’ve always been the type of person who greets people with a smile. Being able to greet my wife, daughters, and grandchildren with a smile seems so like it should be such a small thing. I survived cancer, after all, but to me it was very important. The particular treatment I had to go through made it so that my teeth would be pulled and the shape of my mouth would change. It was heartbreaking to me not to be able to do the one thing I have always done…smile. I was preparing myself for not being able to afford the treatment I needed to get my smile back while I recovered from chemotherapy and radiation. I’d often try to do things to hide my mouth to overcome the embarrassment I felt from losing my smile. Then, one day, I received a glimmer of hope. I was told about a dental pilot program through Cancer Action with support from HNC Living Foundation. If approved, I would be their very first patient. I filled out the paperwork and found out a few weeks later their grant had been approved and in turn, so had I. I began the process with Dr. Andrew VanBlarcom to fit me for dentures and my new smile. From start to finish, he did the entire process. The pride he took in his work was evident and I couldn’t have felt like I was in any better of hands. Shirley Gibson with the Cancer Action helped make the process go smoothly and was a wealth of knowledge. These people and this program not only gave me back my teeth and smile, they changed a shame I felt about my mouth. I am forever grateful for their help and this wonderful program. We often take for granted how important everyday things are in our lives. Due to losing my teeth, I lost 40 pounds during my cancer treatment. Chewing, eating, and smiling are some of those things we take for granted, but I no longer do. Thanks to this program, I can do all of those things again. To have my smile back was to stand tall again and I am so grateful to everyone who helped bring it back.