Help for cancer patients available


More than a decade ago, when Maile Lincoln-Carvalho first began volunteering with the American Cancer Society, she often found people, especially men, didn’t want to talk about cancer.

The American Cancer Society said one in two American men and one in three American women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes. The increasing prevalence of a cancer diagnosis has made the disease more real to people on Hawaii Island, said Lincoln-Carvalho, who is now the community manager of income development for ACS-Hawaii Island.

“In the past, it was so, so hard,” she added.

ACS has informational brochures in every doctor’s office around the island, as well as at health clinics and anywhere else someone with a cancer diagnosis might look. The brochure directs people with cancer to call the national help line, (800) 227-2345, or go online to cancer.org, to start getting an idea of what kind of support is available. Lincoln-Carvalho said the telephone line is available around the clock, which is especially helpful when patients have questions late at night.

The national hot line can help Hawaii residents find services locally, or even on the mainland. Lincoln-Carvalho said one woman decided to return to the mainland for treatment and a national ACS employee helped the woman select a hospital and discovered the hospital had a payment plan available.

“She ended up paying only about 2 percent of the whole bill,” Lincoln-Carvalho said. Without the helpline, patients might miss programs that can help them, she added.

The hot line has counselors available, as well, and family members of cancer patients may also call.

Locally, the cancer society provides gas cards and unlimited free rides from a patient’s home to the hospital for cancer treatment, as well as money for round-trip plane tickets to Oahu for treatment. A patient who needs to fly to the mainland may also apply for partial reimbursement of those ticket costs, as well.

Last year, ACS on Hawaii Island registered the highest number of cancer patients in its history, topping 700. Previous years never saw more than 600 cancer patients, Lincoln-Carvalho said. A typical cancer treatment could run Monday through Friday for 30 to 60 days.

“We had a guy call last week, ‘I feel totally bad. I don’t want to rely on people five days a week,’” Lincoln-Carvalho said. She said volunteers will provide rides as often as a patient requests them, but some people might take a few rides a week and find their own transportation other days.

Lincoln-Carvalho said 33 percent of what the ACS here raises goes to the national organization for cancer research, 29 percent covers those services to cancer patients, 18 percent is used for prevention and early detection efforts, 17 percent is used to pay for fundraising efforts and the remaining 3 percent is used for management costs.

Tickets for the organization’s Hope Gala Hawaii go on sale today. Tickets are $100 each. A reserved table of 10 costs $1,250. The event is March 30 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 935-0025.