In the pre-Internet era, getting cancer support was not that easy. Someone needing help from the American Cancer Society, for instance, had to call an 800 number, then be transferred to one of more than 200 other locations. A representative would take down your request on paper and send you an info packet via snail mail.
Today, treatment and day-to-day life with cancer and chemo are different. You can still call, if you prefer, but you also have lots of online options. You can get on your computer, tablet, or smartphone and have an instant-message chat with an expert. Or you can type in your ZIP code and get directed, in just seconds, to local programs and services to get help for everything from a home-cooked meal to a hotel room near your treatment center.
Every chemo session is important, and you don't want to miss one because you can't get a ride. If you need a lift, check out the "Road to Recovery" program on the American Cancer Society website. Enter your ZIP code and you'll get hooked up with volunteers in your area.
Some hospitals and medical centers have teamed up with popular ride-sharing services to make sure people can get to chemo and back, sometimes for discounted fares. MedStar Health, a nonprofit community health system, has a widget on its website that will connect you with one of these programs.
If you need to travel to another city, look for nonprofits that offer free bus and train tickets and even free airline tickets for families and caregivers. You can get information and often can request help right on their websites.
Find a Place to Stay
If you live far away from your chemo treatment center, you'll need to figure out where to stay overnight. The American Cancer Society has its own lodgings and has also teamed with a national hotel chain to provide free and low-cost housing for people getting cancer treatment. You can find info about it online, although you have to book your room on the phone.
More information on housing options is just a click away on the websites of other nonprofit organizations. Your own treatment center may have nearby places listed on their sites.
An easy way to get a sense of the lodging landscape is to visit the Healthcare Hospitality Network website. There, you can check out almost 200 nonprofit organizations that provide no- or low-cost housing to people with cancer and their families.
It's important to eat right when you're getting cancer treatment. Once again, your ZIP code and a Wi-Fi connection can help. Type in your location on the site of Meals on Wheels, which has a program to deliver food to people with cancer in certain locations.
Another idea: look for "shared online calendar" sites that let your friends schedule days and times to prepare and deliver meals to you.
Help Around the House
Feeling tired is a common side effect of chemotherapy. You probably won't be in the mood for household chores. But there are plenty of online resources that can put you in touch with help for cleaning and cooking. There are also nonprofits, like a group called Cleaning For A Reason, that provide household services for free for cancer patients. You can apply online.
Keep Track of Your Treatment
If you're having chemo, there's a ton of stuff you'll need to stay on top of: appointment dates and times, side effects, medications, and more. There are a lot of apps that can help.
Many apps let you track several things at once, such as when you're getting your next chemo round, drug side effects, blood counts, arranging a ride, finding support, and questions to ask your doctor.
Many hospitals also have websites and apps where you can make appointments, check your test results, or order prescriptions.
A slew of apps can help you make sure you take your drugs on time.
Finally, there are apps and Internet sites to help you with one major headache that goes along with chemo: finances.