When your child has cancer, you want to do whatever it takes to help him get better. Sometimes that means taking him to a treatment center that’s far from home.

If you and your child need to travel for his treatment, there will be some extra questions and logistics to juggle. Where will you live? How will you cover the cost of staying somewhere else? You might be concerned about other practical matters, too, like getting from the airport to the cancer treatment center.

But you don’t have to do it alone. There are lots of great resources available for the families of children who are getting cancer treatment. They can help you sort out the details so you can focus on your child.

Finding a Place to Stay

If you’re deciding between treatment centers or have already chosen one for your child, talk to his care team about housing options that may be available to you. Some resources include:

The Ronald McDonald House. Most major pediatric cancer centers have a Ronald McDonald House nearby. They provide free or low-cost housing for the parents and siblings of kids who are getting treatment. These centers, which also provide meals, are available to any family, no matter your income.

The American Cancer Society. This national nonprofit group offers free and lower-cost overnight lodging to children in treatment and their families through its Hotel Partners Program. To learn more, call 800-227-2345.

Transportation

There are several ways to get help getting to and from your child’s cancer treatment center.

The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Program. Trained volunteers can drive you, your child, and your family to hospitals or cancer centers for treatment. Call 800-227-2345 for information, or contact the local American Cancer Society office closest to your child’s treatment center.

The National Children’s Cancer Society’s Transportation Assistance Fund can help cover your mileage and airfare. The program can also help with temporary housing if your child needs to stay near (but not in) a hospital during cancer treatment. Call 314-241-1600 for more information.

The National Patient Travel Center (NPTC). If you need help covering the cost of airfare to get you and your child to a treatment center, the NPTC can refer you to one of more than three dozen charities and air transportation service groups who may be able to help. Call 800-296-1217 for more information.

Faith-based and community groups are often able to help with travel and travel-related expenses. Talk to a social worker at your child’s treatment center about any options for your family. 

Important Steps While You’re Away

To make life away from home easier:

  • Keep others updated. Let your family and friends know how your child’s treatment is going. You can use a social media site like Facebook. Or you can create a personal site through a free resource like CarePages.com or CaringBridge.org.
  • Ask for help from afar. Friends, family, and community members can care for your home and pets, help your family (for example, driving your other children to and from school), and even mail you items you need.
  • Keep track of your child’s medical care. Being away from home adds an extra layer of confusion to an already stressful time. It can help to use a notebook, calendar, or a computer or smartphone to track your child’s appointments, medications, and other important information. Your child’s cancer treatment center may offer electronic tools that can help.

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