BETHESDA, Md. (Fox 5 D.C) - These past few weeks Fox 5 has taken you along reporter Ayesha Khan’s experience with stage three breast cancer.
In the third installment of the series "Cancer: fight over fear," Ayesha has shared helpful resources and who you can turn to if you or someone you know, is going through a similar experience.
Part III in Ayesha’s words:
For the past eight months, I have been fighting breast cancer in more ways than one.
That includes working out and doing yoga on the days I feel I have enough energy – post-chemotherapy treatment.
The fact that I have kept myself active as best as possible, has played a part in my own recovery and in my body responding the way it did to harsh treatments.
"We know that exercise, yoga, and mindfulness techniques like meditation and finding a community to surround you all are so important to our well-being," said Dr. Nicholas Farrell, medical oncologist with Maryland Oncology Hematology.
My team of doctors introduced me to the Bill Richards Center for Healing located within the Aquilino Cancer Center in Montgomery County, where I am currently being treated.
The entire third floor is a purpose-built space designed to help patients and their families cope with the psychological effects of cancer, even as the patient follows state-of-the-art clinical treatment protocols.
It’s a free resource for anyone within the DMV going through cancer.
Cancer: Fight over Fear pt. 1 Fox 5’s Ayesha Khan shares ongoing experience with breast cancer treatment
"We have yoga classes, nutrition classes cooking classes, and we have mindfulness-based stress reduction classes working with anxiety," explained Lindsey Wise, a social worker with Shady Grove Adventist Aquilino Cancer Center.
"If you go out into the community trying to take them, these are really expensive classes."
The experience of dealing with such a major medical diagnosis meant, I needed to somehow protect and focus on my mental stability and well-being. I have realized that I needed to just give myself more grace.
Help for the toll, that a cancer diagnosis can take on a patient and their family’s mental health, is also offered at the center for healing.
"There is no manual for how you’re going to cope with this," said Wise.
"We offer short term counseling for our patients just to provide that space, just to process through all emotions, all the ups and downs."
The cancer center also helps with finding ways to manage the financial burden that comes with cancer.
"Cancer is actually one of the most expensive conditions to treat in the U.S.," Wise explained. "So you kind of have to be creative. So often I have patients come to me with all of their medical bills which is like a stack and just to help them."
Another expense I had to think about was buying a wig — since chemo has been wreaking havoc on my hair.
Wigs and head coverings can be very expensive even with insurance, but the cancer center helps with that too.
"They’re free," said oncology nurse navigator, Michele McBride.
"I’ll make an appointment with them, and we will meet in the space where we have the wigs and I will often set out what the color style, length they are looking for so they have something to start out with."
More information can be found on the center’s website at https://www.aquilinocancercenter.com/healingcenter
While a wig was an option for me, I also researched technology that could help me keep most — if not all — of my hair.
That’s where the cooling cap came in.
This expensive invention that freezes the hair follicles during chemo, is not covered by most insurance.
But I found resources that could help cancer patients offset the cost. One such group is the nonprofit, Cold Capital Fund based in the District.
Above all, I have learned that with this experience, being an advocate for yourself when it comes to your health is the best medicine. And of course, trying your best to keep a positive outlook.
Here are many other resources that could be helpful and useful.
Pink Cancer Treatment Foundation: www.pnkctf.org or 1-855-PNK-CURE
The Pink Fund: www.pinkfund.org or 1-877-234-PINK
The Donna Foundation: https://thedonnafoundation.org or 1-877-236-6626
Smiley Wiley Breast Cancer Foundation: www.smileywiley.org or 561-632-8631
Donna M. Saunders Foundation: http://dmsfinc.com
Cancer Care: www.cancercare.org/financial or 1-800-813-HOPE
Health Well Foundation: www.healthwellfoundation.org or 1-800-675-8416
For 3 Sisters: www.f3s.org or 301-812-9003
Hopkins Breast Cancer Foundation: https://hopkinsbcinc.org or 301-755-6253
Help Now Fund: http://thebreastcancercharities.org/help-now-fund or 936-231-8460
Family Reach: https://familyreach.org/family-eligibility (children must be impacted to apply)
Cleaning For A Reason: www.cleaningforareason.org or 1-877-337-3348
American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services or 1-800-227-2345
Step Sisters: www.stepsisters.org; must contact nurse navigator for assistance 571-472-0744
Wigs/Breast Prosthesis and Cold Cap funding:
Capital Cold Cap Fund in D.C
American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org/about-us/local/virginia.html or 703-938-5550
Hope Scarves: www.hopescarves.org or 502-333-9715
Bravadas: https://bravadas.com or 703-352-4247
TLC: www.tlcdirect.org or 1-800-850-9445
The Pink Lily: www.thepinklily.net or 855-746-5545
Knitted Knockers: www.knittedknockers.org or 360-595-3278
Mary’s Place By The Sea: www.marysplacebythesea.org or 732-455-5344
Little Pink Houses of Hope: www.littlepink.org or 336-213-4733
Breast Cancer Freebies: www.breastcancerfreebies.com
The Lydia Project: www.thelydiaproject.org or 1-877-593-4212
Magic Hour: www.magichour.org (free family photo shoot)
For journalists who are navigating a similar health related path and are seeking financial help:
For affordable and low cost scans and mammograms:
Breast Care for Washington