On top of the emotional and psychological toll that having a child diagnosed with cancer places on a family, there is often a significant financial toll. Caring for a child diagnosed with cancer is a full-time job which sometimes results in one or both parents having to leave their job. While family income decreases, expenses increase as money must be spent on things such as medicines, travel, accommodation, childcare, and general maintenance costs for the home, car, etc.
Canadians are fortunate to have most cancer treatments covered by provincial and territorial health plans, but this coverage can vary and may not include the medicine taken outside of the hospital such as anti-nausea meds, pain meds, or antibiotics. Travel is another big expense undertaken by families with a child diagnosed with cancer. Treatment centres or specialists may be in urban areas, or different provinces altogether, therefore requiring many families to travel hours to obtain treatment. In this case, accommodation is often required (an additional cost) for extended periods of time. Some treatment centres have a Ronald McDonald House (or an equivalent) nearby that provides low-cost accommodation for this purpose. Other indirect expenses can be the cost of meals when travelling, childcare costs when there are other children in the family, phone bills and increased energy bills due to medical equipment, and even costs for the upkeep of the home and yard as most of the family’s time is spent caring for the sick child.
Where to Find Help?
The Government of Canada offers many programs directed to helping families meet their financial needs and supporting them through the process. The Canadian Cancer Society has a great page that lists the resources offered by each of the provinces, as well as those available on a federal level, such as Employment Insurance if you lose your job, caregiving benefits, and tax deductions. Another resource where families can find multiple sources of financial aid is U-Link Canada. They provide a comprehensive list of provincial, national, and international charities and funds that provide assistance to families with children with cancer. There is also the option of fundraising using platforms such as GoFundMe, or in-person events to help with expenses. Family and friends, or even strangers who empathize with their situation may want to contribute funds towards treatment costs or to help the family manage their new lifestyle and its different demands. Gift cards for practical items such as groceries, meal delivery, house cleaning, gas, parking, or even hospital fees are a great way to assist families and lighten the load.
Financial insecurity is something no one should have to deal with, especially due to unforeseen/unexpected medical conditions. While the financial burden on a family cannot be completely removed, fortunately there are people, organizations, and funds willing to help.
There are many ways to support families with a child battling cancer. Tali’s Fund is introducing #SupportSunday, where each week we will share different ideas and resources. Be sure to follow us and tune in each week for our Sunday posts. Please share them with others, and feel free to add your ideas in the comments!