Advocating For A Loved One

What is an advocate?
There are many ways to support a loved one who has just learned they have cancer. One important way is by being their advocate. Being an advocate means taking action on behalf of the patient to help them to access any needed information, treatment or resources. If you have called friends or organizations to seek help for your loved one, you already are an advocate!
Who needs an advocate?
Individuals just learning they have cancer who may feel immobilized .

Those who have limited healthcare provisions and have language or socio-economic barriers.

People who are part of vulnerable populations: the elderly, minors, mentally challenged or persons with limited experience in the given healthcare system.
What is rewarding about being an advocate?
Being a patient advocate is a big responsibility and also a privilege. It is a chance for you to take an active role in helping your loved one to get the assistance they need and deserve. Your support to a loved one can improve their quality of life and survival.
Tips for advocates:
Tell their story : If you are unsure of how to begin, begin by telling your loved one's story. Telling their story can be especially effective if they live in another country and you are explaining the current limitations on their resources.

Keep a notebook : Use a small notebook so you have records in one place and keep it with you to take to the physician's office.

Write down information : When you call a resource for help, note the following:
Name of the organization, date called, contact's name, contact's phone number, and required follow up actions.

Prioritize your list : Many times you will be given a long list of organizations to call for help. Review the list and give consideration to the kinds of assistance your loved one needs first, such as financial assistance or a referral to a clinician.

Seek referrals : If one resource is unable to help, ask them to refer you to other resources that may be a better fit.

Be proactive : You may need to ask many questions to find the information you are looking for. This is just fine. Keep a list of your questions and notes about the replies.

Follow up : Do not be shy about calling resources weekly or even daily for follow up. Very often, the people who make themselves heard the most loudly succeed in reaching their goals.

Take care of yourself : In order to keep supporting your loved one, it is important to care for your own physical and emotional well being. Staying strong will enable you to help even more.
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