Lend a Hand
Contact local shelters and public health clinics to learn about ways you can assist a homeless person diagnosed with cancer. If you’re a cancer survivor, you may be uniquely positioned to offer advice, materials or just an ear to those in need.
SOME IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED:
• Offer unused medical supplies or prosthetic devices in good condition to a local hospital or health care agency that serves the homeless.
• Donate healthy foods like fresh produce and lean meats for cancer survivors who are unable to afford these items or who don’t have transportation to a grocery store.
• Drive survivors to and from medical appointments or buy public transportation passes for distribution to homeless patients.
• Collaborate with organizations in your area to help fund co-pays for doctor’s visits and medications. In Birmingham, Ala., Southminster Presbyterian Church raises money through a program called “Meals for Meds” to cover basic health care costs for the Church of the Reconciler’s homeless community.
• Lobby local officials, encouraging them to develop a medical respite program for the homeless in your area. Currently, the U.S. has more than 50 respite sites where the homeless can go to recover from illness. These centers, according to Stefan Kertesz, a physician who studies health issues affecting the homeless, provide the “logistical support needed to care properly for all cancer survivors.”
For more information about serving the needs of the homeless diagnosed with cancer, visit the National Health Care for the Homeless Council at www.nhchc.org.