I Got Cancer, Bud!

An Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In California To Appear On Nov. Ballot

#facingtheissues, Meg Fitzgibbons

“…We already know it can help alleviate pain, increase appetite, and reduce stress, so why not?”

When John, a ​twenty-seven year old patient being treated for a brain tumor at ​a major national cancer center was asked whether he would consider a clinical trial involving marijuana to help with his cancer, he said “I would be interested in it. We already know it can help alleviate pain, increase appetite, and reduce stress, so why not?”  Thirty-eight year old Jay, treated for the same diagnosis, said of a marijuana treatment for brain tumors, “If we lived in a world where this approach to treatment was tested, proven, and accepted by medical professionals, I personally would have no problem consenting to it.”

Marijuana, or cannabis, is a plant that hails from Central Asia. Now grown throughout the world, the cannabis plan produces compounds known as cannabinoids. These are the active chemicals in marijuana that impact the body – from the central nervous system to the immune system.

So what exactly does marijuana have to do with cancer?

The assertion that marijuana’s cannabinoids alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer and treatment (such as chemotherapy) is not a new one​, but one that is still highly (excuse the pun) debated.

The American Cancer Society relays that “marijuana is promoted to alleviate pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite in people with cancer.” In 1997, the Office of National Drug Control Policy commissioned the Institute of Medicine to assess marijuana’s health benefits and risks pertaining to cancer treatment.

The results confirmed that there are positive effects of marijuana during cancer​​. However, because marijuana contains numerous active compounds, it cannot be expected to provide precise effects unless the individual components are isolated.

More recent laboratory studies have shown that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and other cannabinoids slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells. Some early human clinical trials of the effects of cannabinoids on cancer have indicated that they can be safe in treating cancer, but they have not been shown to control or cure the disease yet. A brand new study out of the University of London suggests that two of marijuana’s key ingredients, THC and cannabidiol, can help to shrink brain tumors. This article highlights the results of the study and explains how the cannabinoids act on the glioma cells (cells in the brain)​.

There is a lot of information about marijuana use and cancer (both pro and con). You can find additional information related to the use of cannabinoids to treat cancer and its side effects below.

  • The National Cancer Institute addresses cannabinoids’ antitumor and appetite stimulation effect here;
  • This American Association for Cancer Research journal article reviews recent work examining potent, nontoxic, and nonhabit forming cannabinoids for cancer therapy;
  • And here, the University of Sydney reviews the limitations of cannabinoids’ effects.

It is important to note that possessing or selling crude or raw marijuana is still illegal under federal law in the United States.

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults does not condone the use of marijuana recreationally or without guidance or supervision of a physician. 

UCF Acquires Ride Across Maryland

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Two Maryland Charities Join Forces To Grow Cancer Support Resources!

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The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, Inc., and the Ride Across Maryland Foundation, Inc., are joining forces to better serve the cancer community. Both organizations have long recognized the importance of providing direct support to patients and families affected by the disease and believe that coming together will serve even more people in need.

The Ulman Cancer Fund began in 1997, shortly after Doug Ulman, a then 19-year old student and athlete at Brown University, was diagnosed with cancer, not once, but three times. Readjusting to college after such life-altering events proved challenging, and few resources existed at the time to address the unique needs of young adults affected by cancer. Recognizing this void of support, Doug and his family created the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, which works at both the community level and with national partners to raise awareness of young adult cancer and to equip those affected with both an empowering voice and essential resources. Believing that every young adult diagnosed with cancer deserves hope and support, the Ulman Cancer Fund strives to improve lives through collaboration, perseverance, integrity and compassion.

The Ride Across Maryland Foundation began in 2000, by Dick Gelfman and his family. Dick was a well-known attorney and reporter for WJZ-TV in Baltimore. He was an avid motorcyclist and thankful for having a healthy family. He brought together a group of friends to organize an annual motorcycle ride that would raise money for the fight against breast cancer. The first ride was in 2001, and since that time, the Foundation has awarded over $2.5 million to various organizations that assist patients and their families dealing with breast cancer.

2015 will mark Ride Across Maryland’s 15th Anniversary, and according to Gelfman, “This is the perfect time to join forces with an organization like the Ulman Cancer Fund that has a proven track record of making a direct impact in the lives of people affected by cancer.” As the Ride transitions into an event that will support the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, the Ulman Cancer Fund will create a new scholarship that will be awarded to a young adult breast cancer survivor or young adult impacted by the breast cancer diagnosis of a parent or sibling. It will be called The Ride Across Maryland Scholarship.

About the acquisition, Brock Yetso, CEO of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, commented, “We are thrilled to add The Ride Across Maryland to the Ulman Cancer Fund’s already robust platform of awareness, support and fundraising events. On a personal note, I have known the Gelfmans since I was a young child, and both of our families’ lives have unfortunately been impacted in a significant way by this terrible disease. We are honored that Dick and the Ride Across Maryland Board are entrusting us to sustain and grow the Ride Across Maryland, and I am confident that we will be able to help more people affected by cancer as a result.”

As an event of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, funds raised through the Ride Across Maryland will make a direct impact on the lives of young adults impacted by cancer, including young adults fighting breast cancer. The organization will continue to be known as the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, with offices in Columbia and Baltimore.

To register for this year’s event, which will take place May 30-31, please visit www.rideacrossmaryland.org.

About The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults:

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, founded in 1997, is the national leader in providing specialized support for young adults affected by cancer. With nearly 70,000 young adults diagnosed every year, UCF helps young people fight the disease and navigate treatment by providing access to information and other specialized programs. UCF Patient Navigation can be accessed remotely or through onsite Patient Navigators at a growing number of hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. UCF changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, as they fight cancer and embrace survivorship. For more information, please visit, http://www.ulmancancerfund.org.

Media Contact Information:

Shara Boonshaft UCF Director, Development & Stewardship 

(410) 964-0202 x 112, shara@ulmanfund.org

The Art Of Healing

by Julie Lanahan, #facingtheissues

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“I don’t know
what the doctor means by “mostly”
within the radiation field
I don’t know
for how long I will need this cane
I don’t know
what the scan will look like one month,
four months,
four years from now.

All I know is the air that I breathe in this instant–
spring’s sweet whisper—
into my lungs”

– Brendan Ogg, A Leaf of Knowledge

 

Brendan Ogg’s life was turned upside down when, in his sophomore at The University of Michigan, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Deciding to “leave curing the cancer to the doctors” Brendan focused on what he could change, his mind and “spirit.” Before he passed he created a book of poetry, titled The Summer Absurd, leaving many poems behind for those facing a crisis of their own. The pieces not only inspire those fighting cancer today, but helped Brendan refine himself in the months before his death.

Art can have a profound impact on a person facing a cancer diagnosis. During the tremulous weeks, and months, of treatment the arts act as a form of self expression and discovery. Inward reflection at the center of a true artistic practice are often described as meditative. Statistically, improved medical outcomes, reductions in stress and anxiety and improved social identity are just a few ways art therapies have impacted young adults with cancer.

What types of art therapy have you engaged in to help with a cancer diagnosis? Did you find them effective? Let us know! Reach out to either our Facebook or Twitter pages or send us an email at sean@ulmanfund.org.

Read more about the gift of art and healing and how the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts helped Brendan to express himself as a gifted writer. And read more about Brendan Ogg’s story and poetry.

 

 

No Way! UCF Re-Launches Guidebook For Young Adults Facing Cancer

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For Immediate Release: February 26, 2015

The Ulman Cancer Fund For Young Adults Re-Launches Guidebook For Young Adults Facing Cancer

This powerful tool provides suggestions, ideas and valuable information to help young adults navigate their cancer journey

Baltimore, MD: The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF) will be celebrating the release of their updated guidebook – No Way, It Can’t Be: A Guidebook for Young Adults Facing Cancer – at a gathering on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3 p.m. Doug Ulman and his mother, Diana Ulman, wrote this guidebook as a resource for young adults dealing with cancer, from the initial diagnosis through long-term survivorship. At Monday’s event, Diana will present the new guidebook to social workers, nurses, and other medical professionals from local hospitals and cancer centers with whom UCF works.

UCF Founder and co-author, Doug Ulman shared, “Finding out I had cancer at age 19 changed the course of my life. Immediately thrown into a world of challenges to overcome, I found myself struggling to find information and support programs that could help me navigate having cancer as a young adult. Born out of frustration and a real need to support other young adults facing cancer, my mother Diana and I wrote this guidebook in 1997 and it has changed lives. We’re excited to be re-launching the new guidebook in the community.” To date, over 10,000 copies of No Way have been distributed to patients and families in all 50 states.

President and CEO, Brock Yetso stated, “We are excited to share the new guidebook in our community and beyond. No Way, It Can’t Be! offers new and improved resources, information and perspectives for young adults and their families and friends. We hope that our local and national partners will embrace the new guidebook and continue offering it as a tool for the young adults they serve.”

No Way, It Can’t Be! is slated for nationwide distribution. A copy of the guidebook is available for download as a PDF on the UCF website (http://ulmanfund.org/gethelp-cancer-resource-directory/).

About Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults:

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, founded in 1997, is the national leader in providing specialized support for young adults affected by cancer. With nearly 70,000 young adults diagnosed every year, UCF helps young people fight the disease and navigate treatment by providing access to information and other specialized programs. UCF Patient Navigation can be accessed remotely or through onsite Patient Navigators at a growing number of hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. UCF changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, as they fight cancer and embrace survivorship. For more information, please visit, http://www.ulmancancerfund.org.

Media Contact Information:
Shara Boonshaft
UCF Director, Development & Stewardship
(410) 964-0202 x 112

By |February 26th, 2015|News, Press Release|0 Comments

There’s Nothing Normal About Cancer

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Jessica Tanner (second from the right) UCF Board Member, Breast Cancer Survivor – #facingtheissues

“Cancer gave me [a] sense of urgency, and it’s a change I embrace.”

Cancer patients often hear the term “new normal” to describe a return to normalcy after cancer, but the words never resonated for me. There is nothing normal about cancer, and there is no returning to my pre-cancer self. Frankly, as much as I wish I’d never had cancer, I wouldn’t want to go back because I’m discovering, and coming to love, a new post-cancer me. These are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Time can help heal.

When I was diagnosed, I lived in a cancer haze. It permeated everything. Then my treatment ended and the appointments slowed. But I still thought about cancer all the time. At some point though, without any conscious effort on my part and sometimes without even realizing, I began to go days, occasionally a week or two, without cancer intruding on my thoughts. I am eight years from diagnosis now, and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my cancer. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when a life experience triggers a flood of emotions (Ulman’s Key to Keys Ride, a friend’s diagnosis, a ballpark of fans and players Standing Up to Cancer at the World Series . . .). But I can engage with cancer on my own terms now too, which allows me to support others facing the disease.

 

Hugs make life better.

Before cancer, I wasn’t very good at hugs. Now I love them, because I want the people I care about to know right now how much they mean to me. I also give compliments more freely so I don’t miss the chance to tell my friends they are kind, intelligent, strong and beautiful. Cancer gave me this sense of urgency, and it’s a change I embrace.

 

How you say it matters.

Cancer is a difficult thing to talk about, and everyone reacts differently. I’ve had cancer, and even so I don’t always know what to say when a friend is diagnosed. When I was sick, people told me that I was brave and strong. Kind words to be sure, but they irked me sometimes because I didn’t feel very courageous or tough. I simply was doing what my doctors told me to. In retrospect though, I am incredibly thankful for the people who said those things because they were expressing support in the best way they knew how.

 

Life is beautiful.

Sometimes while driving with the windows down or powering up a difficult hill on my bike, I feel so alive and so grateful I almost can’t stand it. I don’t remember this happening before cancer but today I am mindful of these moments. I breathe deeply and treasure them every time.

By |February 20th, 2015|Inspiration|0 Comments

Rememberlutions

photo credit: Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed

photo credit: Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed

#facingtheissues, Allison Isaacson

I’ve never really liked New Year’s resolutions. Over 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions annually and only 8% actually keep them throughout the year. That is WONDERFUL for that 8%, but as history shows, I am usually not in that 8%. People break their resolutions so quickly that January 17th has officially been deemed “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day.” If you’re still keeping up with your resolution, congratulations! You are ahead of the curve.

People with resolutions have such good intentions. It’s a shame to see resolutioners get discouraged and feel bad about themselves after they can no longer maintain 8 hours of sleep every night, the Paleo diet, or their rigorous exercise plans. Instead of focusing on what we don’t accomplish in 2015, I propose we celebrate what we DO accomplish this year.

Every person has different mountains to climb, but every step that means something to you should be recognized.

Buzzfeed recently posted an article on how to make “Rememberlutions Jars” (you should read it!). Rememberlutions Jars are exactly what they sound like. You take a jar (Mason, pasta sauce, whatever) and decorate it to represent YOU! Decorate with motivational quotes, a simple pattern, a hula skirt and a seashell bra, or a mustache. Every time you accomplish something you are proud of in 2015, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar.

As a Patient Navigator at Children’s National Medical Center, I see so much that adolescents and young adults should be proud of. For some, swallowing pills is difficult, and conquering that challenge should go in the jar. I wholeheartedly expect to see “Completed my 3rd round of chemo” and “Increased the motion in my knee to 80 degrees” in jars around our unit. Since a lot of my patients are teenagers, I also expect to see “Got second place at my basketball tournament” and “Accepted to my first-choice college.” Every person has different mountains to climb, but every step that means something to you should be recognized. So, go ahead, put it in the jar, and at the end of 2015 you will be able to look back on an amazing year and all of the milestones you surpassed, big or small.

By |January 23rd, 2015|Inspiration, News|0 Comments

In Memory of Stuart Scott

stuart_scott

#facingtheissues, by Julie Lanahan

Stuart Scott

All of us here at the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults had heavy hearts when we learned about Stuart Scott’s passing earlier this month at the age of 49 after a courageous battle with appendiceal cancer. He was loved by his family (he leaves behind two daughters – Sydni and Taelor) and beloved by his fellow ESPN colleagues, sports fans, athletes, the cancer community, the world.

When he was awarded the Jimmy V. award at the ESPYs in July, he gave a poignant speech about how despite everything that cancer had thrown at him, he intended to live life on his own terms. He was not going to let cancer dictate how he lived.

Scott gave us all a different perspective on the cancer fight. It wasn’t about winning vs. losing…it was about living each moment that you have with meaning and with purpose.

“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

A cancer diagnosis can rob anyone of living their life in the manner they had always imagined. That was not the case for the late Stuart Scott and should not be the case for anyone living with or surviving cancer.

Scott lived with an incredible zest for life on his terms despite his cancer diagnosis. “He didn’t just push the envelope,” says sports radio host and former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick. “He bulldozed the envelope.”

In the David Wygant’s article below, he asks: “If Stuart Scott could crawl into your body, what would he do with your life?” Let us know.

Read David Wygant’s article here. Cancer Changes Lives…So Do We!

Cancer Survivor’s New Year Resolutions

photo from M Swiet Productions & Getty Images

photo from M Swiet Productions & Getty Images

by Amy Malczewski, #facingtheissues

As another New Year approaches, there’s lots of buzz around new resolutions; people making gym memberships, quitting bad habits, eating healthier foods, and better managing their stress in every day life.

What about you and your cancer diagnosis?

You’ve always had a healthy diet.

You’ve always taken the stairs, and you go on a run every morning before work.

You’ve never smoked a day in your life.

Still, you find that at such a young age you have been diagnosed with cancer, and you can’t help but think with the entire buzz being around these seemingly simplistic resolutions, why me?

Looking forward into the New Year, we, at The Ulman Cancer Fund, reflect on one of the first patients we helped as an organization 13 years ago. A now cancer free, advocate, speaker, and purposeful living expert, Tamika Felder writes about how ‘13’ can be a lucky number, and the positivity she now surrounds herself with.

Rather than thinking “why me”, embrace life this holiday season and New Year. Follow Tamika’s advice, and you could change your entire outlook on life. Here are some things she suggests:

It’s OK to reflect. You can’t truly appreciate how far you’ve come unless you look back on where you’ve been. But, remember it’s just a reflection. Don’t let it consume you.

Have a pity party. What happened to you was messed up. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Stage 0 or Stage 4 — cancer is not fun. So, take time to be sad, to accept the blow you’ve been dealt. But remember – you have to move on and fight for your life, because it’s going to take everything you’ve got — mentally and physically.

No longer sweat the small stuff. I know just how short life can be. Therefore, I don’t want to waste time on things (or people!) that really don’t matter.

Cherish the people who really matter to you. Cancer taught me who my true friends were and my circle became much smaller. That annoying friend that you’re always ducking… just cut them loose. That family member that makes you so uncomfortable…you may not be able to cut them loose, but you can cut them back… seriously, way back. Your time is precious. Choose to spend it with people who matter.

Love the skin you’re in. For the longest time, I yearned for my life before cancer. The truth is that you are no longer that person. Embrace the new you. It just might surprise you!

Stop living in the past. Don’t let your experience keep you from living. I have an acquaintance in the cancer community that I see on a regular basis and she is so afraid to live. She lives in fear, constantly, always waiting for cancer to reemerge. I get it. I really do. But those of us who are still here are blessed to be alive, no matter the physical or emotional limitations. So live… like never before.

Enjoy life. Prior to cancer, I hardly ever took vacations. Typically, I would take one in the summer and another at Christmas. I never thought I had enough time, money or a break in the workload. You have to rest and reset. All work and no play… you know the rest!

Take a look into the past with us, here.

And please read Tamika’s full article, here.

Happy New Year, 2015!

Thanksgiving & Coping

Turkey Dinner

by Sharon Curran, RN, #facingtheissues

Over the years, at times it’s been hard to think about that year without feeling anxious and sad.

Ten years ago this week on the eve of Thanksgiving, my then 20 year old was diagnosed with cancer. We set up the Christmas tree and spent time with family and friends in between consults with oncologists. By Christmas, my son’s physical pain was peaking and his breathing was strained. Thankfully chemotherapy began just after the New Year when an infection cleared. After three surgeries, an inpatient stay for another infection, four months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation, he was cancer free. Since its Thanksgiving, I want to express how grateful I am for my son’s recovery.

I do recall how difficult that year was for my family and I, especially for my son. Over the years, at times it’s been hard to think about that year without feeling anxious and sad. Admittedly, I am filled with gratitude for the positive outcome that my son and our family had related to his cancer experience. I reflect on how fortunate we were with some degree of survivor’s guilt, understanding the losses that others experience due their cancer diagnosis is far greater.

During my nursing graduate school studies, I learned of the “Theory of Chronic Sorrow” which was developed and published in 1998 by three nurses, M. L. Burkes, G. G. Eakes, M. A. Hainsworth.

The theory provides a framework for understanding and working with people following a single or ongoing loss (Eakes GG, 1998). The theory is useful for analyzing individual responses of people experiencing ongoing disparity due to chronic illness, caregiving responsibilities, loss of the “perfect” child, or bereavement (Eakes GG, 1998). Nurses need to view chronic sorrow as a normal response to loss and, when it is triggered, provide support by fostering positive coping strategies and assuming roles that increase comfort (Eakes GG, 1998). With an understanding of chronic sorrow, nurses can plan interventions that recognize it as a normal reaction, promote healthy adaptation, and provide empathetic support.

I wanted to share this information with anyone reading the UCF website as I believe there are many cancer survivors and cancer caregivers who might relate to this experience. I hope some of you will comment describing your story, hoping that in sharing, it may help you or other’s cope with periodic sadness, grief, or anxiety that you experience.

Theory of Chronic Sorrow

Eakes, G.G.,Burke, M.L., & Hainsworth, M.A. (1998). Date of last revision September 19, 2013.

Introduction

  • Theory of chronic sorrow was developed by Georgene Gaskill Eakes, Mary Lermann Burke and Margaret A. Hainsworth in 1998.
  • Other related theories – Kubler-Ross (1969), Bowlby (1980)
  • Theory explains the ongoing feelings of loss that arise from illness, debilitation, or death.
  • This theory provides a framework to describe the reaction of parents to the ongoing losses associated with caring for a child with chronic illness or disability (Scornaienchi JM, 2003)
  • Nurses caring for families need to be aware of the high potential for chronic sorrow to occur in persons with chronic conditions, their family caregivers, and bereaved persons. (Eakes GG, 1999).

Concepts

  • Chronic Sorrow: The periodic recurrence of permanent, pervasive sadness or other grief related feeling associated with a significant loss. (Eakes GG, 1998).
  • Disparity: Refers to the difference between the ideal and the real situation due to some type of loss.
  • Loss: A significant loss that may be ongoing or a single event.
  • Antecedents (Gorden J, 2009): First antecedent is initiated when a single event of a living loss is experienced e.g. onset or time of diagnosis of chronic illness. Second antecedent to chronic sorrow is unresolved disparity resulting from the loss.
  • Tiggers: Events which prompt the recognition of a negative disparity in the disabled loved one or loss which brings out sadness again.
  • Internal Management Methods:  Individualized coping interventions initiated by the person experiencing chronic sorrow (Gordon J, 2009).
  • External Management Methods: Interventions provided by medical professionals to aid in effective coping (Gordon J, 2009). Examples include – Professional counseling, Pharmaceutical Interventions, Pastoral Care or Spiritual Support, Therapeutic Communication, and Referral Services.

Conclusion

  • Theory is useful for analyzing individual responses of people experiencing ongoing disparity due to chronic illness, caregiving responsibilities, loss of the “perfect” child, or bereavement (Eakes GG, 1998).
  • Nurses need to view chronic sorrow as a normal response to loss and, when it is triggered, provide support by fostering positive coping strategies and assuming roles that increase comfort (Eakes GG, 1998)
  • With an understanding of chronic sorrow, nurses can plan interventions that recognize it as a normal reaction, promote healthy adaptation, and provide empathetic support.

References

  1. Eakes, G.G., Burke, M.L., & Hainsworth, M.A. (1998). Middle range theory of chronic sorrow. Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 30(2), 179-183.
  2. Eakes, G.G., Burke, M.L., & Hainsworth, M.A. 1999) Milestones of Chronic Sorrow: Perspectives of Chronically Ill and Bereaved Persons
    and Family Caregivers. Journal of Family Nursing, 5(4), 374-38
  3. Scornaienchi JM (2003) . Chronic sorrow: one mother’s experience with two children with lissencephaly. J Pediatr Health Care. Nov Dec;17(6):290-4.
  4. Gordon J ( 2009). An evidence-based approach for supporting parents experiencing chronic sorrow. Pediatr Nurs.35(2):115-119.

 

http://nursingplanet.com/nursing_models/theory_of_chronic_sorrow.html

Be Proactive! Open Enrollment 2015

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by an Ulman Navigator, #facingtheissues

With open enrollment for health insurance just around the corner, it is an important reminder that everyone facing cancer be able to have access to treatment. Historically, research has shown that young adults have the highest rate of uninsured of any age group. With the Affordable Care Act, young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance through the age of 26. Open enrollment for health insurance begins November 15th and spans through March 31st. For more information about health insurance options for young adults with cancer, check out the following organizations:

Healthcare.gov

CancerCare

Cancer Legal Rights Center

Patient Advocate Foundation

By |November 14th, 2014|In the News, News|0 Comments