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Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.

— Gilda Radner

Many people feel overwhelmed by financial pressures after they have been diagnosed with cancer. That burden can be difficult to bear when you are going through diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Besides hospital bills, cancer treatment can include out-of-pocket expenses. These may include medication, prostheses or wigs, transportation to and from treatment or to distant hospitals, and lodging for you or for family if the hospital is far from where you live. In addition, it may become difficult to cover more basic expenses such as food, utilities and child care.

In this section you will find resources that may be able to help you with your particular financial need.


If you need help, a good place to start is with the social worker or financial counselor at the hospital where you are being treated.

If there is not a social worker at your hospital, ask your nurses for help. These people are the most knowledgeable about community resources and will know about local groups who could offer help. They will also know about programs or foundations the hospital may have to help cancer patients. Also, the hospital’s billing office may be able to work out a payment plan with you.

There may be help available through your local health department.
If you are being seen at your local health department, and your breast cancer was diagnosed through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), you may be eligible to have your treatment paid for by the Breast and Cervical Cancer Medicaid program (BCCM). BCCCP is a program providing free mammograms, clinical breast exams and other tests to women in North Carolina who meet certain income guidelines. See Resources at end of this section for contact information.

Your place of worship, community center, local civic group, or your friends or relatives may be able to help.
While you may feel embarrassed at having to ask for help through a financially-difficult time, keep in mind that the people who care about you may be looking for a tangible way to show you their support. Several other financial assistance programs are listed in the Resources at end of this section.

Information and Referral Services (I & R).
A good resource for finding out what assistance programs are available in your area, especially for basic needs, are organizations called “I & Rs”. These groups can refer you to agencies and programs that provide clothing, counseling, credit and budget help, adult and child day care, death and dying services, meals, elder services, financial assistance and information, home health services, legal aid, free medical clinics, translators, transportation and much more. We have listed information and referral services in North Carolina at the end of this section. Some offer Spanish-speaking operators.

Your medical costs may be deductible on your tax return.
Medical costs that are not covered by insurance policies sometimes can be deducted from annual income before taxes. Currently, they must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income to be deductible. For example, if your income is $30,000, then you could deduct out-of-pocket medical costs that exceed $2,250. Medical costs include doctor’s bills, drugs, medical supplies and anything related to your care, including transportation and lodging. Your local IRS office, tax consultants or certified public accountants can help you with the details; or see and download Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

What if I don’t have health insurance or have just lost it?
There may be a few options available to you. These include gap health plans, COBRA insurance coverage, Medicaid and Medicare. For more detailed information and resources about health insurance, see Insurance Issues.

Tips For Dealing With Financial Issues

  • Get the facts to learn what you are facing: Collect as much information as you can about current and possible future expenses such as medications, hospital stays, clinic bills, and related expenses such as transportation, lodging, and home health aids.
  • Make a chart listing the expenses: Estimate how much you will have to pay out and how much your insurance, if you have it, might cover.
  • Make a list of your current financial resources: Be sure to include your income, savings account, Social Security, and retirement income.
  • Create a budget: After putting together the information about the income and expenses, find out if you will have problems making ends meet. Many people do. If you think you will, here are some suggestions.
    • Talk to the social worker, patient representative, or your nurse at the hospital to help you find free or low-cost programs and services in your area.
    • Talk with your hospital’s billing office to work out a payment schedule that meets your budget.
    • Find out if you are eligible for disability income through private disability insurance, state disability insurance, or Social Security disability benefits.
  • See our listing of financial assistance resources in this chapter.


Financial Assistance with Screening (Mammograms, Breast Exams)

American Breast Cancer Foundation
410.825.9388 or 877.539.2543

Sponsors the “Key to Life” Breast Cancer Early Detection Program, which offers clinical breast exams, mammograms, and ultrasound free of charge to eligible women. Uninsured and underinsured women of all ages are interviewed to determine their needs and first referred to government programs if they fit those criteria.

Cabarrus Health Alliance Breast Health Screening Program (Cabarrus County)

Provides free breast cancer screening, diagnostics and referrals for low-income, uninsured and underinsured residents of Cabarrus County with breast problems who are under age 40 and do not qualify for BCCCP. Contact Priscilla Wilson, RN, at 704.920.1000 or for more information. (2006 Komen Charlotte Affiliate Grantee)

800.813.HOPE (4673)
Sponsors limited financial assistance for cancer patients. Funds are for home care, child care, and transportation, pain medications, chemotherapy, radiation and lymphedema services. There are income guidelines.

Edgecombe Breast Health Initiative (Edgecombe County)
Edgecombe County Health Department
Provides funds to help women ages 40-64 in Edgecombe County get mammograms. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Grantee)

“ENCOREPlus” of the YWCA
Call your local YWCA
Provides free or low-cost clinical breast exams, mammograms and pap smears to women with certain incomes. Also provides educational seminars, breast self-exam training, and peer group support and exercise. Currently, there are eight YWCA locations in North Carolina — Asheville, Central Carolinas, Greensboro, High Point, North Carolina Central University in Durham, Wake County (Johnston County residents also eligible), Wilmington, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Focused on Education and Early Detection
(Johnston County)
Johnston County Health Department
Provides funds to help women in Johnston County to get mammograms. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Hazlo Por Tu Familia (Chatham County)
Chatham Hospital, Siler City, NC
Offers immigrant Latinas breast health education, breast exams, case management and after-care lymphedema therapy. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Health Awareness Program for Immigrants (Wake County)
This program from Boat People SOS, Inc., helps Vietnamese uninsured and underinsured women with breast health education, early detection and mammograms. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Lincoln Community Health Center (Durham, NC)
Has an outreach program to provide screening and bilingual education to uninsured women in Durham County. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Mammograms for Life! (Nash County)
Nash County Health Department
Provides mammograms and other diagnostic services such as ultrasound and biopsies for women in need, including Hispanic women, in Nash County. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Mobile Mammography (Caswell County)
Helps with cost of mammograms and transportation for women in need in Caswell County, NC. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

MRI Screening for High Risk Women (Durham, NC)
Provides bilateral MRIs in the Duke University Medical Center Outreach Area for highest-risk, pre-menopausal women. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Many mammography facilities offer special fees and extended hours for mammograms during October.

North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Control
Program (NCBCCCP)
BCCCP provides screening for breast or cervical cancer at no cost for women who have limited or no insurance, do not have Medicare Part B or Medicaid, and meet income guidelines. Priority is given to women ages 50-64 and ethnic minorities. In North Carolina, call 800.4.CANCER or the BCCCP number above to find programs in your area.

North Carolina Cancer Assistance Program
North Carolina Division of Public Health
919.707.5321 or 866.693.2656
Provides financial assistance for diagnostic or treatment services to qualified applicants. Applicants must be North Carolina residents, meet financial and certain medical requirements. Patient’s doctor must submit a letter for the patient. Services must be pre-approved; there is a maximum per pre-approved claim of $25,000. The program approves up to 8 days of service for the diagnosis of cancer per year.

Patient Navigator Program (Durham, NC)
A program of Duke University Medical Center that provides support for women in need who have been diagnosed or are at high risk of, breast cancer. Navigators help patients with services and appointments. Services may include mammography/ultrasound, parking and transportation assistance (based on funding availablity). Contact Stephanie Robertson at 919.668.3051 for more information. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Plugging the Gap (Wake County)
This program from Planned Parenthood, based in Raleigh, offers free mammograms and follow-up services when breast abnormalities are discovered during routine annual exams for women under age 40. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Project Pink (Vance County)
Maria Parham Medical Center and Vance County Health Department
Provides funds for breast cancer screening and support services for women in need in Vance County. (2006 Komen NC Triangle Affiliate Grantee)

Financial Assistance with Treatment

Disability Benefits—Social Security
Social Security Administration

If you cannot work, regardless of your age, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your disability has lasted or will last for six months or longer. To apply, see the web site or call the toll-free number above to apply. Social Security pays disability benefits under two programs:

  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI):
    If you have been working and contributing to Social Security for several years, you may qualify for SSDI. However, you must meet the government’s narrow definition of disabled. If you get turned down, it is best to reapply. You may need to reapply more than once; some cases are more likely to be approved after 2-3 denials and a subsequent hearing before a judge. When approved, benefits do not begin until the sixth full month of disability. Your income has nothing to do with whether you qualify for SSDI.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
    If you have not worked much, or your income was very low before you became unable to work, you may be eligible for SSI. This program helps people who are disabled, over age 65 and/or blind. To qualify, your income and assets must be below a certain level. If you do qualify, SSI will pay you a monthly income.

Hill-Burton Program
800.638.0742 (Toll-free hotline)
Directory of programs by state:

Some hospitals receive funds from the Federal government, so they can offer free or low-cost services to those who are unable to pay. Eligibility is based on family size and income. You may apply for assistance at any time, before or after you receive care. Not all types of treatment are covered. Call the hotline or see the web site for more information.

  • North Carolina currently has the Hill-Burton program (or similar program) active at six facilities across the state: (Piedmont Health Services, Chapel Hill; Cumberland County Health Department, Fayetteville; Snow Hill Medical Center, Snow Hill; New Hanover Community Health Center, Wilmington; and Lutheran Nursing Home, Salisbury).

LifeWise Foundation

A public charity created to help with financial burdens of terminally ill patients and their families. Services include grants to terminally ill patients who are facing financial challenges, but are unable to meet the eligibility requirements for state or private aid. Also provides information on other sources of financial assistance and gives advice about effective financial management in a free Financial Resource Guide.

North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Medicaid (NCBCCM)
(through local health departments)

If your breast cancer was diagnosed through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) at your health department, you may be eligible for your treatment costs to be covered through BCCM. To be eligible, diagnosis of the cancer must not have been made before being seen through the BCCCP.

North Carolina Cancer Assistance Program
North Carolina Division of Public Health
919.707.5321 or 866.693.2656

Provides financial assistance for diagnostic or treatment services to qualified applicants. Applicants must be North Carolina residents, meet financial requirements and certain medical requirements. The patient’s doctor must submit a letter for the patient. Services must be pre-approved; there is a maximum per pre-approved claim of $25,000.

Veterans Health Administration Cancer Program
Department of Veteran Affairs
800.827.1000 or 800.733.8387

Eligible veterans and their dependents may receive cancer treatment at a Veterans Administration Medical Center at no cost. CHAMPVA is an additional healthcare benefits program for dependents or survivors of veterans who meet certain criteria.

Financial Assistance with Medication

Ask your doctor if you can purchase any of your medications from Canada, where drugs are much cheaper. Also, ask if you may be able to split your pills. Pharmaceutical companies usually charge similar amounts for a drug no matter what the strength. You may be able to get a double-strength dose of tablets and then cut them in half with an inexpensive pill cutter. Be sure to check with your doctor to see whether this is feasible for your medications; it may not be.

American Cancer Society (ACS)
800.227.2345 or 866.228.4327 (TTY)

Provides limited financial assistance in a “Stop Gap” fund when there are no community resources available or when delays in receiving them are unacceptable. Funds are for transportation, emergency medication and supplies.

American Pain Foundation
888.615.PAIN (7246) (Automated information)

This web site has information and tips about financial issues related to pain medication. Click on Patient Information to the left, then page down and click on Financial Information.

Cancer Services, Inc. (Winston-Salem, NC)
336.760.9983 or 800.228.7421

A local North Carolina non-profit organization serving Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, and Yadkin counties. Has a cancer medication fund.

Common Thread for the Cure (Winston-Salem, NC)

Statewide program that provides financial assistance for women with breast cancer who have connections to any area of the furniture industry.

Co-Pay Relief

A program of the Patient Advocate Foundation. Provides direct co-payment help for prescription drugs to insured people who financially and medically qualify. Call counselors for assistance with the process.

Linking A.R.M.S.
800.I’M.AWARE (800.462.9273)

A partnership between Susan G. Komen Foundation and CancerCare. Offers limited financial assistance for oral medications, pain and anti-nausea medication, lymphedema support, and supplies, and medical equipment.

Needy Meds

This web site is designed to help people find drug assistance programs. Search by pharmaceutical company or by drug name. Updated frequently.

Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

Publishes the Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs, which lists drug companies that offer prescription drugs free to doctors whose patients cannot afford them. Most major drug companies do this; however, many are phasing this out due to changes in Medicare. Patients cannot apply to the drug companies directly—doctors must apply for their patients, but patients can call the drug companies listed to obtain applications and information in order to speed the process for their doctors. Eligibility requirements vary from program to program.

Senior PHARMAssist (Durham, NC)

A program in Durham County that helps older adults (65+) with limited incomes purchase medications and coordinates with their healthcare providers to ensure effective and affordable medications for them.

Assistance with Prostheses (Breast Forms), Wigs and Medical Supplies

First, check with your local hospital or cancer center—they sometimes have wig banks and other supplies in-house. Also, see our Suppliers of Breast Cancer Products & Services for stores and companies across North Carolina that offer discounts on prostheses, wigs, lymphedema supplies and more.

American Cancer Society
800.ACS.2345 or 866.228.4327 (TTY)

The Patient Donations program has free goods and services such as wigs, medical supplies, home care, and nutritional supplements that were donated.

Cancer Services, Inc. (Winston-Salem, NC)
336.760.9983 or 800.228.7421 (in North Carolina)

A local North Carolina nonprofit organization that serves Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, and Yadkin counties. Has free medical equipment and supplies available.

Women Helping Women (Raleigh, NC)
Nonprofit organization assists low-income, uninsured, or underinsured women financially with purchase of prostheses, wigs, hats and turbans, and with emergency medical funds. Provides information about follow-up care and resources available. Currently services the Triangle area, and other North Carolina counties where possible.

Assistance with Lodging

First, ask the social worker or nurse at the hospital where you receive treatment if local hotels and motels offer a discount to those receiving treatment at the hospital, or if there is a Host Homes program. Some also offer free transportation to the hospital.

National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses
828.253.1188 or 800.542.9730

Helps provide free or low-cost family-centered lodging and support services to people needing medical treatment away from home and families. Call the toll-free number or see web site for updated listing and contact info for North Carolina houses. Currently, 14 hospitality or similar-type houses are in North Carolina:

Lewis Rathbun Center, 828.251.0595,
Chapel Hill: Adult Family Housing of UNC,

Hospitality House of Charlotte,

Caring House,

Hope Homes,

Duke Host Homes,
inquire at Duke University Medical Center,
888.275.3853 or 919.681.4688

Elizabeth City:
Wesley Hospitality House,

Stanton Hospitality House,
call 800.542.9730 for contact information

Ft. Bragg:
Fisher House,
call 800.542.9730 for contact information

American Cancer Society McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge,
252.695.6143 or 800.282.4914

Carpenter Hospitality House,

High Point:
Kimberly House,
call 800.542.9730 for contact information

FirstHealth of the Carolinas,

Hospital Hospitality House of Wilmington,

Friendship Place/The Hawthorne Inn,
336.777.3000 ext. 1120,

Assistance with Transportation

Transportation services are available in many communities. Although they vary, they are usually one of these three types:

  • Low-cost van service run by community agencies or hospitals.
  • Volunteer transportation services where someone will drive you in their car.
  • Private transportation services (vans and taxis) that nonprofit groups will help you pay for.

Here are some ideas to help you find transportation:

  • Start with family and friends. Often they want to help, and this is something they can do.
  • Check with your hospital to find out if they have a van service or volunteer transportation services.
  • See if you can set up a carpool with other patients.
  • Check with community agencies (YMCA, churches, fraternal orders, etc.) to find out if they can help.
  • Ask local taxi services if they can offer you a discount rate if you use them regularly.

For air flights, see the listings below or call the airline to see if they have a medical discount program.

Air Ambulance for North Carolina and South Carolina
Phoenix Air Services

No fees, but donations accepted. Full life-support system on all planes. Must meet eligibility requirements.

Air Care Alliance
918.745.0384 or 888.260.9707

The Air Care Alliance is a nationwide league of humanitarian flying organizations whose volunteer pilots are dedicated to community service. These organizations provide air transport for patients and sometimes for family members needing to get to treatment.

877.AIR-LIFE (877.247.5433)

A network of volunter pilots that provide free air transportation so patients can reach medical treatment that would otherwise be inaccessible.

American Cancer Society (ACS)
800.227.2345 or 866.228.4327 (TTY)

Has up to $150 per patient per year financial assistance available for transportation or medication. The Road to Recovery program links trained volunteers with patients who need rides to outpatient appointments.


Dedicated to providing compassionate ground transportation for those in need.

Angel Flight America

Free air transportation for needy patients to specialized healthcare facilities.

800.813.HOPE (4673)

Sponsors limited financial assistance for cancer patients. Funds are for home care, child care, and transportation, pain medications, chemotherapy, radiation and lymphedema services. There are income guidelines.

Cancer Services, Inc. (Winston-Salem, NC)
336.760.9983 or 800.228.7421

A local North Carolina non-profit organization that serves Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, and Yadkin counties. Has transportation assistance available.

Corporate Angel Network, Inc.
914.328.1313 or 866.328.1313

Provides free air transportation to cancer patients traveling to and from cancer treatment centers, using empty seats on corporate aircraft. No financial requirements, but you must be able to walk and travel without life support. Register within three weeks of a specific appointment at a recognized cancer treatment center.

National Patient Travel Center
c/o Mercy Medical Airlift
757.318.9174 or 800.296.1217

Provides assistance with long distance travel for medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. Makes referrals to organizations based on distance needed to travel and medical condition of patient.

Assistance with Meals

Meals on Wheels
Provides home-delivered meals to those in need. If you need to have meals delivered to your home or the home of a loved one, call the ElderCare Locator number at 800.677.1116 to get the number of the Meals on Wheels program closest to your area.

Assistance with Utilities

Contact your county Department of Social Services office for assistance. They often have information on programs to help with heating and cooling costs and other utility expenses.

Assistance with Child Care or Home Care

800.813.HOPE (4673)

Sponsors limited financial assistance for cancer patients. Funds are for home care, child care, and transportation, pain medications, chemotherapy, radiation and lymphedema services. There are income guidelines.


800.813.4673 (HOPE)

All services free; staffed by social work professionals who provide counseling, tips and support and help find resources, including financial, in your area. See “Financial Help for People With Cancer” on web site.

Cancer Survival Toolbox—Finding Ways to Pay for Care
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
301.650.9127 or 877.NCCS.YES (622.7937)

A free audiotape designed to help underinsured or uninsured people who are having difficulty finding and getting the care they need.

Caring Community Foundation (Cary, NC)

The Foundation works with clinics and hospitals in the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, and other NC areas to identify patients with financial challenges, and to provide assistance with expenses such as rent, utilities, food, prescription medications, and other items.

Finding the Money: A Guide to Paying Your Medical Bills, by Diane Pammenter Tolley (2001). Drawing from her experience as an insurance salesperson, a fundraiser, and the mother of a BMT patient, Tolley offers a host of practical suggestions on how to assess what your transplant and after-care will cost, and how to track and pay for your bills.

Gardeners for Hope: Joan Balch Breast Cancer Fund
(Greenville, NC)

Fund administered by Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center to assist breast cancer patients who are challenged financially or in special need of encocuragement. Funds are used to buy wigs, prostheses, wound dressings and other health products.

Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation (Cape Hatteras, NC)

Foundation raises funds to offer financial support to cancer patients and their families who live on Hatteras Island. Helps pay for medical costs not reimbursed, travel expenses to medical centers for cancer treatment. Also provides community service support to cancer patients and their families.

National Cancer Institute: Support and Resources

This page offers an overview of support and financial assistance resources for people with cancer. If you do not have Web access, call the toll-free number for information.

Pretty in Pink Foundation (Raleigh, NC)
919.532.0532 or

This new fund was created to assist women ages 40 - 64, with little or no health insurance, in receiving necessary medical treatment, education and support they might not otherwise be able to afford. Contact for more information and eligibility requirements.

“Taking Charge of Money Matters”
from the American Cancer Society

A workshop for people with cancer and those who care about them. Addresses concerns about money that arise during or after a person’s cancer treatment, regardless of whether the person has health insurance. Provides an opportunity to discuss key money matters with guest speakers knowledgeable about financial planning. Call to find out if this workshop is available in your area or see the web site for financial aid information.

Information and Referral Services (I & R’s) can refer you to agencies and programs that provide clothing, counseling, credit and budget help, adult and child day care, death and dying services, meals, elder services, financial assistance and information, home health services, legal aid, free medical clinics, translators, transportation and more. Most hotlines are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are bilingual.

Regional & Statewide I & R Services

ACCESS Information Services
(Serves Fayetteville/Cumberland County)

CARELINE (statewide information)
800-662-7030 or 877.452.2514 (TTY)
Available Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.
Has Spanish-speaking operators

Care Connection
(Serves North Wilkesboro/Wilkes County)

First Call for Help
(Serves New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick Counties)
910.397.0497 or 800.672.2903

First Call for Help
(Serves Shelby/Cleveland County)

Help, Inc.
(Serves Rockingham County)

(Serves Lexington/Davidson County)

Information and Referral Services of Iredell
(Serves Statesville/Iredell County)

REAL Crisis Intervention, Inc.
(Serves Greenville/Pitt County)

Rowan Information and Referral, Inc.
(Serves Salisbury/Rowan County)

United Way NC 2-1-1
(Serves Burke, Catawba, Chatham, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Randolph, Rockingham and Wake Counties)
Dial 211

United Way NC 2-1-1, Central Carolina
(Serves Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union Counties)
Dial 211

United Way 2-1-1, Western Carolina
(Serves Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania
Dial 211

United Way 2-1-1, Catawba
(Serves Catawba County)
Dial 211

United Way of Moore County Helpline
(Serves Southern Pines/Moore County)
910.695.HELP (4357)



Breast Cancer Resource Directory of North Carolina | Third Edition 2006 - 2007

Copyright 2006, Jamie Konarski Davidson, Women Helping Women, Elizabeth Mahanna, North Carolina Institute for Public Health, and UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Portions of the Breast Cancer Resource Directory of North Carolina may be copied without permission for educational purposes only. The Breast Cancer Resource Directory of North Carolina is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through the Breast Cancer Resource Directory of North Carolina should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your healthcare provider.

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