Monthly Archives: December 2014

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MyLifeLine.org 2014 Year in Review

MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation had an exciting and successful year in 2014. We saw growth in many areas and look forward to continuing to serve all people affected by cancer.

2014 Highlights

  • Site Usage: MyLifeLine.org is now serving over 130,000 members and guests and saw growth in global outreach with visits from 198 countries.
  • Platform upgrade: In April, MyLifeLine.org launched a platform upgrade which gives us the ability to roll out additional features more quickly and easily, so MyLifeLine.org can continue to evolve and serve people affected by cancer.
  • Showing Support: Ribboning, MyLifeLine.org’s unique initiative to show cancer support around the world continued to reach new places. Throughout the year, Ribboning pictures of supporters from all 50 states and 7 continents were shared on social media.
  • Annual Event: MyLifeLine.org’s annual fundraising event, Jockeys, Juleps & Jazz was a tremendous success thanks to our many friends, members, sponsors and supporters.
  • Connecting for Cancer: In October, MyLifeLine.org launched a new campaign called Connecting for Cancer, which connected philanthropic businesses with cancer patients to help them with some of their greatest needs.

MyLifeLine.org is honored continue providing cancer patients and caregivers with free, personal websites and a platform to receive support in 2015. If you haven’t made a donation yet, it’s not too late to support cancer patients and caregivers.

Your donation of $130 will support a cancer patient or caregiver’s website for a full year. Make your donation today by clicking HERE.

2014

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Top Five Items for a Chemo Care Package

If you’d like to send a care package to someone who is going through chemotherapy, we’ve collected a few suggestions for you. Please note that every person’s diagnosis, treatment and experience with chemo is different, so for food and personal care items it’s important to follow a healthcare provider’s instructions.

Here is a list of the top five things our members suggest to include in a chemo care package.

  1. Ginger or Mint Tea –  An upset stomach can be an unfortunate part of chemotherapy. Mint or ginger tea can be helpful to soothe an upset stomach.
  2. Sour Candy – Some people experience dry mouth as a side effect of chemotherapy. Sucking on hard candies can help with that. Some also say this helps combat a lingering metallic taste from the chemo or even help with nausea.
  3. Unscented Lotion – A good gift for someone going through chemotherapy is a nice, unscented lotion. People going through treatment have to avoid anything with perfume or alcohol in it, but one side effect is that skin and nails become very dry.
  4. Lip Balm – As with skin, lips can become very dry and it’s nice to have a good lip balm or two hand.
  5. Mints or candy canes – Chemotherapy can affect people’s taste and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Some people suggest mints to help combat that.

Bonus items: soft socks, blanket or hat. A person’s ability to regulate their temperature can be affected by chemotherapy. Even if that isn’t a side effect someone is experiencing, something cozy makes a nice comfort item.

Chemo Gift Guide

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If we had a million dollars…

This week’s blog post is by Jason Wagner, MyLifeLine.org Board President.

MyLifeLine.org strives to provide a place where cancer patients get practical and emotional support from their friends and family. As a board member, I try to visualize about more than what we currently do well but also to think about the changing and evolving needs of all those we serve, spending time on the vision of what could be for the cancer community.

Today, we are the only nonprofit of our kind specifically serving the cancer community and we have built an impressive offering. Even by comparison to for-profit company standards, our features include a place to post updates, the ability to customize security settings, a “helping calendar” to ease and coordinate rides, meals and more from loved ones giving invaluable support to those in need, and where needed a place to respectfully ask for financial donations from friends and family. We know these tools are critical features to our users, because every day we hear things like “MyLifeLine really was my lifeline.”

We recognize cancer treatment is about more than medicine. Research shows outcomes are affected positively when people have a strong support community. More than being an efficient tool to coordinate a complex time, this research validates even further meaning why we do what we do. Giving people a place they feel safe and supported by their friends and family, without having to wade through piles of emails or repeat and relive every doctor’s appointment or piece of news. We efficiently get the news delivered and secure your support army and allow for every subsequent conversation or communication to be more meaningful. In fact, when my dear friend Kris tells me, “MyLifeLine.org saved my life,” I am instantly more passionate and more driven by our cause and mission.

So that is today, but what will tomorrow bring?  We have so many ideas of how we can do more, help more people and be an even more valuable resource for the caregivers and cancer patients we serve.

If we had a million dollars (and we would take more), we would have the ability to create new features, things like voice updates, so people who are bedridden and can’t hold themselves up to type can still update friends and family. Integrations with other organizations who provide services like pill bottles with medication reminders that alert caregivers when meds need to be taken. An integrated list of medications so that people who sign up to bring a meal know the dietary limitations of a person and don’t accidentally bring over a grapefruit crisp, when grapefruit doesn’t play nice with that person’s chemo drugs. We could track and record key medical data, and for anyone willing to share anonymous data with researchers trying to cure cancers, then we could collect data across the country or across the world the way that no single hospital could.  We are in 183 countries and we will need to build translation module to serve the worldwide community better. Or another cause that tugs at everyone’s hearts is when a child must go through cancer and their needs can be similar but are also different to an adult community. We certainly serve anyone facing cancer, but we can grow and do everything better tomorrow.

We keep patients at the center of our design, but that design process takes time. As a nonprofit we have to first raise funds, and then build requested features. It’s our dream that someday we can be as nimble as any startup with a team of developers who are ready to jump on any ideas and execute them in a way that is beautiful and makes the lives of cancer patients and caregivers just a little less hectic, a little less burdensome, one-by-one taking away the small worries and cares that are heaped upon people going through a cancer diagnosis. Why should they have to remember when all their appointments are, how they’re getting there, what they should/shouldn’t eat and when they should take the blue pill along with the normal tasks of everyday life? Many of those things are functions technology can easily handle. We want to take away those burdens and give cancer patients as much control as we can. Helping them feel all the love of their friends and family.

Technology can be so frustrating at times, when you want it to “just work!” and that spinning wheel or blank screen just stares at you. At other times it can be magical, when you say, “what’s the score in yesterday’s Broncos game?” and a voice from your pocket replies with the answer. With additional capital, MyLifeLine.org would responsibly and carefully decide where to invest into the magic end of the technology spectrum. Making things work in a way that doesn’t take thought, at least for that part of a person with cancer’s day because we know they have enough other things to think about.

Everyone can be left alone to create their approach and work through their own methods of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, with some success stories and some failures. Or my preference, MyLifeLine.org would be honored to play an important role in developing an efficient and helpful process and support community, relying on the most current tools and technology available. I have yet to meet a person who has never been impacted by cancer, so if we can forge our support community against cancer then we would love to continue to support everyone who needs us.

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Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace – Part Two

This week’s guest blog post is brought to us by the experts at Patient Advocate Foundation. Patient Advocate Foundation is a nonprofit providing professional case management services to those with life threatening and debilitating diseases by acting on behalf of the patient.

Healthcare.gov created a helpful video that outlines the best way to help find the right insurance plan here.  It covers items like plan category, monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. This might be a helpful reference point for those searching for new healthcare options.  You’ll also want to take a peek at the Cancer Insurance Checklist here for a thorough checklist of what cancer patients need to keep an eye on when they’re searching for new insurance coverage.

Those who purchase plans through the Marketplace may also be eligible for financial assistance to purchase those plans. There are two types of financial assistance:

  1. Premium tax credits which help lower the cost of your monthly premium and
  2. Cost sharing subsidiaries, which lower the cost of your co-pays, co-insurance amounts, and deductibles for qualified applicants who enroll in a Silver or higher plan.

These tax credits will help offset and reduce the cost of health care insurance for individuals with income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty guidelines.    The exchanges will help you identify if you qualify for the tax credit as well as help you enroll in the best  insurance plan using the cost savings.

Insurance plans within the Health Insurance Marketplace are categorized in four tiers to help you evaluate coverage options: bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with the bronze plan featuring a lower premium but higher out of pocket expense. This allows consumers to compare and choose the plans that best meet their need.

  • Bronze Plan- Estimated to cover 60 percent of medical bills, leaving the insured member to pay the remaining 40% up to established out-of-pocket maximum
  • Silver Plan- Estimated to cover 70 percent of medical bills up to established out-of-pocket maximum.
  • Gold Plan- Covers 80 percent of medical bills up to established out-of-pocket maximum
  • Platinum Plan- Estimated to cover 90 percent of medical bills up to established out-of-pocket maximum

One of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the end of an insurance company’s ability to refuse coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Additionally, insurance providers cannot charge the patient unreasonable premiums or price increases based on your health. Out-of-pocket costs are capped and coverage must include essential health benefits. Lifetime and annual limits have also been eliminated.

If you are researching plans and coverage options for you and your family, it is important to evaluate and compare your options on the Marketplace, even if you ultimately end up securing insurance through another avenue.  By educating yourself and researching what your options are, you will be able to help make the best decision for you and your family.

Having health insurance will help ease your mind, and in the long run, ease your wallet. By doing your research and asking questions, you’ll be able to find the right healthcare insurance plan for you and your family.

For more information about Patient Advocate Foundation please visit www.patientadvocate.org/gethelp or call toll free at (800) 532-5274.

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Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace – Part One

This week’s guest blog post is brought to us by the experts at Patient Advocate Foundation. Patient Advocate Foundation is a nonprofit providing professional case management services to those with life threatening and debilitating diseases by acting on behalf of the patient.

Regardless of where you are currently in your health care journey, the majority of us will find ourselves at the doctors office at one time or another.

It is for this very reason, that it is important to find and enroll in a healthcare plan that works for you to protect yourself from the full expense of medical care and to ensure you are able to access the medical treatment you need.   People without health coverage not only will be fined a penalty if they find themselves at the doctor, they will be required to pay the entire cost of their medical care.

It’s always important to have health insurance, but it becomes especially critical if you’ve been diagnosed with a serious or long-term illness. Having health insurance coverage means that you will be able to continue your necessary medical care treatment and the opportunity for recovery and healing.

One of the newer healthcare insurance options includes getting insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace during Open Enrollment.  Marketplaces are also sometimes known as Exchanges.

  • The Open Enrollment period began November 15, 2014, with new health insurance plans becoming active as early as January 1, 2015.
  • The last day to enroll within the Open Enrollment period is February 15, 2015, for a plan that is effective on April 1, 2015.
  • If you miss the defined open enrollment period, you may have to wait until the year’s open enrollment to sign up for coverage. (Unless you meet the specific criteria allowed for an expanded enrollment period)

Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace may seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be.

The first place you’ll want to start is with your state’s branded marketplace or exchange. Each state offers its own marketplace with local plans that adhere to a set of minimum healthcare guidelines. Some of those state marketplace websites are actually run by the state and some are run by the federal government. To find your state’s marketplace website, visit www.healthcare.gov for the full list.

As you begin your research, it is necessary you become familiar with the plan language, so you may continue to be an educated consumer while you’re searching for new plans.  Learn terms like deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copayments, premiums and other healthcare-specific language to make the most appropriate healthcare choices for you and your family. It is important you assess your cost vs. benefits option when searching for a new plan.

Check back next week for tips from the Patient Advocate Foundation on how to find the best plan to fit your needs through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For more information about Patient Advocate Foundation please visit www.patientadvocate.org/gethelp or call toll free at (800) 532-5274.

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