How One Organization is Helping Patients with Blood Cancers Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
Patients with blood cancers are facing unprecedented challenges to their treatment journeys as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the cancer landscape. Which is why the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is looking to offer its own lifeline to patients.
BY Jessica Skarzynski
PUBLISHED April 21, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the country, patients with blood cancers face treatment access issues and are experiencing isolation like never before. However, organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) are there to offer a lifeline.
Recently, CURE® spoke with Dr. Gwen Nichols, the chief medical officer of the LLS about what the society is doing to help this patient population address their unique needs, by providing resources via their Webinars and Weekly Chats, among other things.
“For many blood cancer patients, these are really life-prolonging and potentially curative therapies that they need to get,” Nichols said. “So, we’re trying to be sure we help patients find the safest place to get their treatment.”
For the LLS, Nichols explained, this may mean traveling to an out-of-network office, which presents new problems that the organization is working to solve.
“We’re advocating for insurers to be more flexible about, for instance, if you need to go to a different office, that office might not be under your plan. Patients are frantic because they can’t pay that out-of-pocket or out-of-network cost. I think this will show us some ways the system is failing for cancer patients and ways we have to change to adapt to exactly this kind of problem.”
Nichols also discussed how this patient population can stay safe and manage their everyday life through the pandemic.
“I think being as educated as you can about what’s reality and what’s not is the most important thing you can do for your physical and your mental health,” she said.
Moreover, if patients are feeling overwhelmed or need assistance, patients and caregivers should reach out to the organization’s Information Specialists: master's level oncology professionals who provide free, personalized assistance to patients, families and healthcare providers, by calling (800) 955-4572 from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.