24-hour line will lend support to cancer patients in holidays

Published 1:10pm Thursday, November 22, 2012

Many people will be out enjoying a break from work or even a vacation with friends or family this holiday season, unfortunately, cancer doesn’t take a holiday, which is why the American Cancer Society has an information help line that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week — even on holidays.

The nationwide help line, which can be reached by calling 1-800-227-2345, is for anyone who needs information about cancer.

“Going through the holidays tends to be a hard time for a lot of people, especially when you’re going through medical problems. But that number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, so the biggest thing is to let the community know that it is there,” Bridget Mills, American Cancer Society community representative said. “If they have questions about their diagnosis, their treatment, what type of side effects they are to expect — because again we have to keep in mind, when a patient is told that they have cancer, the doctor’s job is to treat the cancer, they focus on the medical side.”

While the doctors are trained to take care of a patient’s medical needs, trained counselors are prepared and ready to answer questions or just talk to cancer patients or even the friends, family are care takers of those patients.

“Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. They may be going through an emotional time. It may be at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning when the rest of their family is asleep. There is a trained counselor that they can call to and that person will sit there and talk to them,” Mills said. “And it’s not just for cancer patients. It’s for friends and family and for care takers of those patients. It may even be just a church member who cares about somebody, who they know is going through it and they don’t know how to talk to them. They want to know what kind of support that they can give to them.”

The number is a free service available for anyone to call, anytime, day or night. In the 2012 fiscal year, the National Cancer Information Center answered more than 8,950 calls from Alabama patients, caregivers, volunteers and information seekers. Of those calls, more than 200 were received from Dallas County.

The lights never go out at the NCIC. When someone calls 800-227-2345, a specialist is there to help.

“How can you be that village that that person is going to need, not just during the holiday, but everyday throughout their cancer journey,” Mills asked. “[Anyone] can call that number even during the holidays.”

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