The financial hardships of cancer

Many people living with cancer are all too familiar with the non-medical consequences of cancer and its treatment; the fear, anxiety, pain, isolation, guilt and financial worries. Costs for medication, childcare, hospital parking, long distance phone bills, new clothes from a weight loss or gain to name a few, can be overwhelming when combined with the drop in income that most cancer patients experience.  Many cancer patients can relate to lying awake at night worrying about their finances and what they are going to do if they become too sick to work. Research has found that 60  per cent of cancer patients indicated their income decreased following their diagnosis (‘Return to Work Concerns Faced by People Dealing with Cancer’, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer) and 80  per cent of respondents had experienced a financial impact.

Many believe that ’the government’ will be there to provide for them when they become too sick to work and need financial support to pay their bills. Others rely on resources such as savings or turn to family to help them manage.

The reality is vastly different from the perception. This is where the Money Matters program at Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation can help.

Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation is a network of community based cancer support centres that offer programs, at no charge and without medical referral, to men, women and children living with cancer, and those who support them.

The Money Matters program offered at Wellspring is the only program of its kind in Canada. It allows cancer patients who are too sick to work to meet with a professional Money Matters Case Manager for a confidential, one-on-one and free of charge assessment, to review personal information and discuss specific questions and concerns regarding their finances. The Case Manager works personally with each cancer patient to help them navigate through the maze of income replacement programs and to create an individualized plan of options and resources.

The Wellspring Money Matters Resource Centre and Money Matters case managers provide information on:

  • Various government and employer-based income and benefits programs, such as Employment Insurance Benefits, Ontario Disability Support Program and Canada Pension Plan
  • Options for drug coverage, such as the Trillium Drug Program
  • Referrals to community services, such as housing resources, local food banks, and other community agencies

Late in the fall, Wellspring is launching an online Money Matters program for cancer patients across Ontario. The online platform will help Wellspring better serve cancer patients with financial worries that are unable to make it into a Wellspring centre. Using platforms, like Skype, Zoom and FaceTime, people living with cancer will be able to connect with a Money Matters Case Manager, from the comfort of their own home and still receive the same personable, warm and welcoming feeling that someone experiences when entering a Wellspring centre.

For eligible members that are able to visit a Wellspring centre, the Wellspring Money Matters Resource Centre also offers the following specialty services for free:

  • A Long-Term Disability and Employment Law Legal Clinic
  • A Financial Advice Clinic
  • Resources, brochures, application packages and pamphlets on income and benefits programs and community services

These are the only such clinics available in Canada for people with cancer.

Like all Wellspring programs, the online Money Matters program is offered free of charge without the need for a referral.
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