Help Available For Those With Cancer

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Having cancer is difficult. Finding help shouldn't be.

No matter what you need, the American Cancer Society can help.

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Wigs, hats and turbans are available at the Payson Regional Medical Center's Senior Circle. The materials are part of the support provided to area residents by the American Cancer Society.

That is the message of the American Cancer Society's Quality of Life program, chaired by Barbie Patterson.

While Patterson is based in Tucson, the American Cancer Society has outreach programs throughout Arizona.

Services include a round-the-clock help line -- (800) 227-2345 -- or help online at www.cancer.org. The organization provides wigs, turbans and hats to those who have lost their hair due to treatment. They have housing in Phoenix and Tucson areas to make access for treatments and surgery less of an ordeal for residents in rural Arizona. They act as advocates for patients with their health care providers and provide support through groups that meet throughout the state.

The American Cancer Society's National Cancer Information Center is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The staff that mans the information center have responded to more than 10 million inquiries since its inception.

A critical step in understanding one's cancer diagnosis and deciding how to overcome it is having timely access to unbiased, easy-to-understand, accurate information. For this reason, in January 1997, the American Cancer Society launched the National Cancer Information Center -- a nationwide free help line accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling (800) ACS-2345 or through www.cancer.org.

In its first month, NCIC's staff of eight cancer information specialists and two oncology nurse information specialists responded to a total of 720 calls. Today, NCIC has a staff of more than 450, including oncology nurses and specialists in clinical trials, foreign languages, and Quitline, the Society's free smoking cessation program.

Responding to an average of 85,000 calls per month, NCIC has seen the total number of incoming calls and e-mails rise to more than one million each year.

Working not with scripts, but with a Society-developed database, including the latest information on different cancers, cancer treatments, pain control options, prevention and detection guidelines, and locally available resources, NCIC staff personally address each query, providing cancer information and referrals to Society support programs and other available resources.

NCIC staff work with the Society's local offices to maintain extensive, updated listings of local cancer resources, including support groups,.

Barbara, 60, (who did not want her last name used) found her support system through the local Reaching Out breast cancer support group when she was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast a year ago. Through the group, she learned about the ACS lodging program.

She had a 7 a.m. surgery scheduled, which meant getting up at 4 a.m. if she and her husband were going to go from their home to the hospital.

"I called the number -- (800) 227-2345 -- and found out more about the housing program and they were able to get us into a hotel room near the hospital." So Barbara and her husband drove down the night before the surgery. If she had needed it, the ACS would have also provided her with transportation.

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