Health-care consulting for families facing a cancer diagnosis

Cancer Champions offers compassionate guidance and clarity to you and your loved ones throughout your cancer journey.

As your trusted guide, we empower you and your family with knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions about your cancer care and regain your peace of mind.
Schedule a get-acquainted call

With Cancer Champions,
You Don’t Have to Face Cancer Alone

If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed and anxious by a cancer diagnosis, compassionate support is available. Cancer Champions can ease your fear and uncertainty by helping you and your loved ones understand your specific disease, collect personalized healthcare information, evaluate your treatment options, and make informed decisions. 

Combining oncology knowledge with genuine compassion makes Cancer Champions a trusted advisor that complements your cancer care team and provides peace of mind throughout your cancer journey. Call Dana to learn more about how she can help to create a personalized roadmap to guide you and your family.

CONSULTATION

When you are presented with a difficult diagnosis, most likely you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Because I have professional healthcare experience and have personally been through several cancer journeys, I compassionately work with you to create a personalized roadmap to help you and your family navigate the journey. I also provide resources and informationto to help you take the first steps.

EDUCATION

When you are making critical decisions — you need access to the most relevant information, tailored to your unique situation. With both professional and personal experience researching treatment options and supportive care solutions for individuals facing cancer, I am uniquely qualified to offer families the types of information and resources they will need to make better informed decisions about their care.

FACILITATION

Upon hearing a cancer diagnosis, emotions often take control and inhibit decision making. Anxiety and fear may stifle important conversations that family members and loved ones need to have with the individual fighting cancer. I can help to facilitate these important but difficult conversations, with compassion and a kind and open heart.

From our inbox:

When my father was diagnosed with cancer I was in shock — and living 600 miles away. I knew he had been dealing with prostate cancer several years earlier, but I had no idea his cancer had returned and was so advanced.  

Dana was a true blessing. She went to see my father and assessed the situation quickly. Her knowledge of cancer was critical. She listened to the doctors and asked the right questions. She was far better equipped than us to discern what the doctors were saying — and counsel us appropriately. She monitored my father during his stay in the hospital and helped us navigate the transition to hospice. Dana was compassionate and a true professional all the way through to the end.

The nicest thing about working with Dana is her compassion. She has experienced the loss of her own parent to cancer and knows the confusion, uncertainty, and heartbreak involved. She is able to professionally communicate with the medical staff and gather the correct information — and translate it to us in an understandable way. Dana cried with us, prayed with us and was not afraid to be honest. I respected that.

— L.P., Atlanta, Ga

From our inbox:

“Money can’t pay you back for the wisdom you provided my family.”

From our inbox:

“You have been an angel that came into our lives…we could not be on this journey without you…”

20 Questions to Ask Your Oncologist

It’s helpful to have a list of questions to ask your doctor when you are presented with a cancer diagnosis. Here are 20 questions to ask at your next doctor’s appointment.

Recent articles

Financial Toxicity of Cancer Treatment

What is financial toxicity?

Financial toxicity or financial distress, as it is sometimes referred to, is a result of the financial burden of out-of pocket expenses incurred for medical care that is not covered by your health insurance.

Examples of these costs include:

Deductibles: The amount you are responsible to pay for care before your health insurance plan begins payment.

Co-insurance: The percentage of the cost you pay after your deductible has been met. Ex. Insurance policy covers 80% of cost and you are responsible for the remaining 20%.

Co-Payments: The amount you pay for each doctor’s visit or prescription.

Cancer research has made remarkable strides, yielding new, sophisticated technologies and treatments resulting in improved patient outcomes.  However, progress has not come without a cost. As costs increase, the health insurers have shifted some of the burden to patients resulting in higher deductibles and increases in coinsurance and co-payments, all of which are out-of –pocket expenses.

Despite having insurance, many of the out-of-pocket expenses of treatment are significant and people are finding themselves “underinsured”.  Several studies have described a variety of strategies patients have adopted to minimize the impact of the out -of -pocket costs of their treatment.

The research shows that the majority of “underinsured” patients altered their life styles in an attempt to afford prescription medications.    Some subjects  took  less than the prescribed amount while others didn’t fill the prescription at all.  A large percentage of the study population reduced spending on food and clothing or used their savings in order to meet out- of -pocket demands.  A smaller percentage sold property or possessions to defray the cost of their treatment.  More research is needed to determine what effect such strategies are having on quality of life and treatment outcomes.

Will you be affected by financial toxicity?   The following factors may help you determine your risk.

  • The costs related to your care
  • The amount of debt you currently carry
  • Your assets
  • If you are the primary income earner
  • Your treatment’s affect on your ability to work
  • The breadth of your insurance coverage
  • The type of cancer you have been diagnosed with and its severity

One of the first recommendations I make is for clients to assess the assets they have.  As a private medical advocate, I have at my disposal a network of vetted professionals and resources to assist clients who are experiencing the very real side affect of financial toxicity.

One such partner is Tracy Shen of The Florin Group. www.floringroup.com

Tracy has been able to review a client’s current portfolio and identify small adjustments that, if made, would yield an increase in their cash flow blunting the impact of out- of- pocket expenses associated with their care.

In addition to consulting your financial planner, you also want to schedule a review with your insurance agent.  Depending on your diagnosis and current situation you may be eligible to access cash from an existing policy without penalty.

Additional financial support resources include but are not limited to:

If you find you are suffering the very real side affect of financial toxicity due to a cancer treatment give me a call to see how I can help.    703-403-7600 or email me at mailto:dana@cancer-champions.com

Do I need Cancer Insurance?

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of receiving a cancer diagnosis. Such a diagnosis strikes fear, shock, and a sense of helplessness in the hearts and minds of everyone affected. In 2016 there were over 1 million new cancer diagnoses.

Fortunately, due to advancements in science and medicine, a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. In fact today there are an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US and that number is projected to increase to 20 million in 2026.

However, the advances in medicine and technology have not come without a cost and many find it difficult to keep up with treatment costs despite having medical insurance.

Within the last decade, insurance companies have taken note of the rising costs of cancer care and many offer a supplemental insurance plan that provides additional coverage to your regular plan. This new type of cancer insurance is not meant to replace your current medical coverage, but to enhance it by covering many of cancer related expenses not currently covered by basic medical insurance.

What Cancer-specific Insurance Usually Covers

  • Co-pays
  • Deductibles
  • Hospital stays (especially lengthy ones)
  • Visits to out-of-network specialists
  • Various tests, treatments, and procedures
  • Childcare
  • Dietary assistance
  • Travel and lodging when treatment is far away from home

It is important to double check with the individual insurance company about what is actually covered as this list is not comprehensive to all policies.

How do you know if you should invest in Cancer Insurance?

Companies like QuoteWizard have made it easier to explore your insurance options and suggest you begin by asking yourself the following questions.

If you or one of your family members were diagnosed with cancer, would your current insurance policy cover all the costs? Would your family be able to pay the out of pocket expenses associated with treatment obtained from out-of-network specialists or for therapies that are not network accessible?

Are the extra monthly premium costs associated with a supplemental cancer insurance plan worth the peace of mind it provides? Do the benefits of such a plan outweigh the additional monthly costs? When should I invest in a cancer insurance plan?

Like all insurance, it is impossible to obtain coverage after the fact. That is why QuoteWizard recommends exploring your options before a diagnosis.

To help you in making a decision if a supplemental policy may be right for you please read further.

Is this type of insurance designed to replace my existing medical insurance?

No, supplemental cancer insurance does not replace your health insurance. Cancer insurance augments your health care plan, not replace it.

Health History

Have you been diagnosed with cancer in the past? A previous diagnosis is considered a pre-existing condition and may hinder your ability to obtain cancer specific supplemental insurance.  Many of the companies also implore an age threshold. Each company is different.

Family History

Family history and genes both play a role, however, an absence of cancer in your family history does not guarantee you won’t be affected by cancer due to an environmental cause.

Which Insurance Companies Offer Cancer-Specific Insurance?

QuoteWizard’s picks for best companies providing cancer insurance.

  • Aflac
  • Cigna
  • Colonial Life
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Physicians Mutual
  • MetLife
  • Combined
  • United Healthcare
  • All State
  • American Fidelity

What Will Cancer Insurance Cover?

While coverage amounts vary, most cancer policies pay for the following:

  • Surgery
  • Blood transfusions
  • Prescription drugs
  • Ambulance Rides
  • X-rays
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Nursing
  • Doctors’ visits
  • Hospital Stays

If you would like further information on cancer insurance such as how much coverage you need, cancer insurance limitations, costs and other important questions, please download a comprehensive cancer insurance guide here.

 

September is awareness month for childhood cancer & a few more, how are we doing?

This September we highlight some of the scientific advances that have lead to new treatments for many of the cancers listed below:

  • Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month
  • National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
  • Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Breakthroughs in Childhood Cancer

New technology in immunotherapy has led to a novel approach to the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Chimeric-antigen-receptor T-cell therapy or CAR-T therapy has proven very promising and researchers are encouraged, as plans develop to investigate this new technology in solid tumors.

Learn more about CAR-T therapy

Advances in Leukemia & Lymphoma

Researchers have identified specific genes or proteins associated with cancer cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma and waldenström’s macroglobulinemia that have led to targeted therapies such as BTK and BCL-2 inhibitors. These targeted therapies have resulted in promising advances in certain leukemias and lymphomas.

Learn more about BTK inhibitors

Learn more about BCL-2

New alternatives for Ovarian Cancer

Targeted therapy in ovarian cancer is rapidly expanding and currently, there are 3 FDA approved PARP inhibitors.

Learn about PARP inhibitors

Immunotherapy Trial for Prostate Cancer

Based on scientific findings in prostate cancer a new approach to treatment has been developed and will be studied in a clinical trial combining two immunotherapy drugs that target separate brakes on the immune system. The clinical trial for stage IV prostate cancer will enroll 90 patients at 9 centers nationally.

Learn more about clinical trial

So this September we are encouraged by the scientific advances that have led to a variety of new treatment options and are hopeful that in the year ahead many more milestones will be met as the dedicated men and women in the field of cancer research and development strive for cures. This September we recognize their efforts.

If you or someone you know is facing a difficult diagnosis and would like some help making sense of all the information you are receiving so that you are able to make confident decisions please contact me dana@cancer-champions.com or call 703-403-7600.   I’m here to help.

Schedule a get-acquainted call 

The first step is a free 30-minute get-acquainted call to see how I can help. The next step is to schedule our first meeting together, where I will personalize a roadmap for you and your family, provide a list of resources, and determine next steps.