Freebies for Cancer Patients
Reviewed by John D. Hainsworth, MD, and Roy S. Weiner, MD
1. Get away from it all
- Casting for Recovery
If you’re a woman with breast cancer, you can learn coping skills and make new friends while learning how to fly fish during a free weekend retreat. The idea came from a breast cancer reconstruction surgeon and fly-fishing fan in Vermont who thought the experience of learning a new sport in the company of fellow patients would provide an opportunity for healing. The organization offers retreats in at least 34 states. Go to castingforrecovery.org or call 888-553-3500.
- First Descents
Cancer patients ages 18 to 39 can gain confidence by going kayaking, rock climbing—even surfing—during this free weeklong outdoor program offered in seven states. Since its inception in 2001, First Descents has hosted more than 1,000 cancer patients. Find out more at first firstdescents.org, or call 303-945-2490.
- Camp Good Days
This organization sponsors free weekend camping programs for cancer patients at various spots. Some cater to women, with workshops on healing through art or adventure. There’s even a program for people with cancer and their significant other and/or friend. The same organization sponsors camps for kids with cancer. Find out more at www.campgooddays.org.
2. Pamper yourself
- Angie’s Spa
This service provides free massages for people undergoing chemo at hospitals in four states. The sites are: MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Northridge Hospital Medical Center in California, Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and Southampton Hospital in New York. For more information, go to angiesspa.org. If you don’t live near one of these hospitals, ask your local spa if it offers discounted services for cancer patients.
- Crickett’s Answer For Cancer
Founded in honor of a 39-year-old woman who died from cancer, CAFC offers free massages, as well as facials, mastectomy supplies and wigs. Go to crickettsanswer.startlogic.com.
- Yoga Bear
This San Francisco-based nonprofit group offers free yoga classes at more than 200 studios in 25 states. And it’s a good way to boost your energy: Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center found that breast cancer patients who performed gentle yoga moves three times a week during radiation therapy were less tired than those who simply stretched or did nothing. Go to yogabear.org to sign up.
3. Recruit your own cheering squad
- Chemo angels
This group will pair you with your very own “chemo angel,” a volunteer who will send you cheery notes and small gifts during treatment. Sign up at chemoangels.net.
- The Lydia Project
This Augusta, GA-based nonprofit group will send you a year’s worth of hand-written greetings and notes of encouragement. The organization will also send you a free tote bag stuffed with items such as an inspirational journal and pen, as well as skin lotion. Go to thelydiaproject.org or call 877-593-4212.
4. Get a hand with housecleaning
- Cleaning For a Reason
Debbie Sardone, who owns a cleaning company in Lewisville, TX, discovered that some of her clients could no longer afford her services after a cancer diagnosis because of steep medical bills. So in 2006, she launched Cleaning For a Reason, a national nonprofit that partners with professional maid services to offer free cleaning services. Women undergoing cancer treatment can get the no-cost help for up to four months. The program is available in 50 states and Canada. Check out cleaningforareason.org or call 877-337-3348.
5. Just for kids
- Wigs for Kids
This group provides free hairpieces to children with cancer. Check out wigsforkids.org or call 440-333-4433.
- Locks of Love
Get free supplies or low-cost hairpieces for cancer patients under 21. See locksoflove.org or call 888-896-1588.
- Ped-Onc Resource Center
This group provides a list of camps for kids with cancer at www.ped-onc.org/cfissues/camps.html. Camps typically start at age 6, although younger kids can participate in camps where entire families can attend.
6. Enjoy a beauty boost
- Look Good…Feel Better
If you don’t like the way your treatment is changing your hair, skin and nails, sign up for a free makeover through this American Cancer Society program. During the workshops—which are held at hospitals or community centers—cosmetologists offer makeup tips and advice on how to cope with hair loss. Each participant gets a free makeup kit. Special programs are available for teens, and there’s a self-help guide for guys, too. Go to lookgoodfeelbetter.org for workshop locations or call 800-395-5665 to order self-help materials.
- Heavenly Hats
For a free or low-cost hat, scarf or head wrap, check out heavenlyhats.com. Since the organization was founded in 2001, it has donated at least 650,000 hats to cancer patients.
Published March 2014