– By Anna Casey, LIVESTRONG Staff
You may have noticed a real upswing in upper lip hair last month as men everywhere grew out their mustaches in support of the Movember Campaign. What many people don’t know is that all of the creative, and sometimes unsightly, mustache harvesting that happened in November will have a real impact on men’s health year-round, and that’s an impact I see every day as a Navigator at the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Movember’s campaign does more than just help raise awareness—it helps me to continue to connect men and their families who are affected by cancer to much needed direct support services.
Through my conversations with clients, I know first-hand that a diagnosis of cancer comes with many physical, emotional and financial challenges. One of the most common concerns voiced by men and their loved ones affected by prostate cancer that reach out to our Cancer Navigation Center, regardless of their insurance coverage, is the high cost of co-payments for radiation therapy. To address this gap in services, LIVESTRONG joined forces with Movember and the Patient Advocate Foundation to provide a radiation co-payment assistance program. Men making under $60,000 annually, and who are currently undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer, are eligible to receive $1,000 from the Radiation Co-Payment Assistance Small Grants Fund. Since the start of the program in August, we have helped over 125 patients save over $125,000, and we look forward to assisting even more men as the program continues. Who knew a mustache was worth so much?
While financial concerns over the cost of treatment are often at the forefront of patients’ minds, the uncertainty of the treatment itself and interpreting medical reports or a diagnosis can be just as anxiety-inducing. Many patients who I help apply for the radiation co-payment assistance program aren’t even sure of the type of radiation therapy they will be receiving, or what they can expect at their first appointment. This is another area where LIVESTRONG can offer some peace of mind to patients by connecting them with an oncology nurse practitioner at one of our partner organizations, the NavigateCancer Foundation. A free over-the-phone consultation with an experienced oncology nurse can help prepare patients for their appointments and treatment so that they can be their own best advocate. And when cancer-related stress and anxiety becomes overwhelming for the patient or those close to them, the counselors at LIVESTRONG are only a phone call away to provide support and strategies to cope.
As men everywhere begin shaving their November facial hair experiments, know that just because the mustache is gone, the impact is not. From the first stages of a cancer diagnosis to years after treatment has ended, LIVESTRONG is here to help anyone affected by all forms of cancer navigate through the challenges, now.