Too many head and neck cancer patients face financial challenges that are just as overwhelming as the cancer itself. The additional expense of medical treatments, therapies, prescriptions, and co-pays — often with limited insurance coverage — puts a strain on household budgets and relationships. Rehabilitation and regular follow-up care is critical to long-term health and many patients do not have the financial means to afford these quality-of-life treatments and therapies.
Head and neck cancer often affects breathing, eating, drinking, speaking, and the voice. It can have a significant impact on a person’s physical appearance, social interaction and self-esteem and this affects a person’s willingness or ability to socialize or return to work.
Since 2015, we have awarded nearly $550,000 in grants to benefit head and neck cancer patients. We are funding programs that provide dental services, nutritional supplements, prescription assistance, transportation support, and specialized therapies.
Our Current Grantees
Cancer Action, Inc.
Overland Park, KS
Head and neck cancer patients have unique needs due to the location of the cancer and the side effects that occur from treatment. Cancer Action’s Patient Services Program is designed to provide an array of support services head and neck cancer patients need to address the side effects and impact of cancer and its treatment. The more critical needs include nutritional supplement support, prescription assistance, medical equipment and supplies, transportation assistance and case management. $35,000
Most head and neck cancer patients have some type of dental or mouth problems during their treatment. Treatment for some head and neck cancers involve loss or removal of teeth. Without teeth, a person’s nutritional status and health continue to be compromised. The lack of properly fitted dentures or partials can also lead to further complications including pain, infection, and potential deterioration of the affected area. Partnering with a prosthodontist, the Patient Dental Services Program will provide partial prosthetic or full dentures for head and neck cancer patients who have had partial or full removal of their teeth due to the cancer, treatment and/or side effects. $30,000 (Read about one patient’s transformative experience Cancer Action denture program.)
Truman Medical Centers
Kansas City, MO
Head and neck cancer patients at Truman Medical Center have an increased vulnerability because of their already low socioeconomic status. The costs associated with the treatment of these cancers can be overwhelming for any patient, but especially for those who are uninsured or under-insured. Planning treatment for a patient with limited or no financial resources is difficult. The financial burden of care and services can cause some patients to forgo necessary treatments. The HNC Financial Assistance Program will provide assistance with costs associated with transportation to medical appointments, nutritional supplements and tube feeding supplies, prescription co-pays, rental of durable medical equipment, and medical supplies necessary for the post-operative care of a tracheostomy. $30,700
Post-treatment side effects of head and neck cancer can include loss of flexibility, reduction in range of motion, adverse effects to head and neck posture and posture in general, limitations to physical balance for daily activities, fatigue, lack of endurance, lymphedema (swelling) and memory problems. Yoga has the potential to help reduce these debilitating side effects and improve quality of life. The Head and Neck Cancer Yoga Series is designed for patients who have received surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy and are experiencing post-treatment limitations. The yoga methods taught in the classes — breathing techniques, meditation, postural awareness and correction — can be used at home or work. $13,980
The University of Kansas Hospital
Kansas City, MO
Survival rates for head and neck cancer patients have increased over the past few decades. Healthcare providers now focus on restoring function and assisting the patient in achieving an acceptable quality of life. Patients are frequently discharged from the hospital needing home health supplies such as feeding tube supplies, portable suctions, and respiratory equipment. Many patients live in rural areas and do not have access to a durable medical equipment provider or are uninsured or underinsured and cannot afford the home health equipment necessary. The Patient Financial Assistance Program can provide home healthcare and durable medical equipment to patients in financial need. $85,000
A specialized table to facilitate lymphedema massage, frequently medically necessary to treat lymphedema and reduce swelling. $5,000
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry
Kansas City, MO
Although radiotherapy saves the lives of many head and neck cancer patients, the quality of life of these cancer survivors is drastically diminished due to numerous radiotherapy-induced oral and dental complications, including painful mucosal tissue, dry mouth and severe debilitating breakdown of the teeth and the associated loss of chewing function. Medically necessary oral care before, during, and after cancer treatment is critical to prevent or reduce the incidence and severity of oral complications and to enhancing both patient survival and quality of life. The Dental Care for Head and Neck Cancer Patients program will provide dental care for uninsured and underinsured patients referred from any regional medical center. Services include dental care required prior to starting cancer treatment (pre-care) and follow-up/ongoing dental care after cancer treatment (post-care.) $225,900