Coping with COVID-19 & Re-Opening for Cancer Patients

By: Patricia Callahan, LMSW, Cancer Resource Specialist at Cancer Support Community North Texas

Cancer patients are uniquely vulnerable to the Coronavirus because treatments like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants can result in compromised immune systems. Even though more places are opening up and most are tired of staying home, it’s still important for anyone with a compromised immune system to continue to stay home as much as possible. Other household members should limit their outings as well to reduce the risk of bringing the virus home to vulnerable loved ones. If you have to go out for medical appointments or essential errands like grocery shopping, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and practice social distancing – staying 6 feet apart from others. (MD Anderson Staff, 2020)

As businesses open up and the world around you is returning to going out and socializing more, it can feel even more stressful and isolating to continue staying home, especially if you are cooped up with children or other family members and feel like you have no time for yourself. Or conversely, if you live alone and really wish you could have face to face contact with loved ones. Cancer patients, like everyone else, want to know when this will be over, when they can go out and see their people. Although we don’t have a set time frame for when the need to practice social distancing will end, it can be helpful to remind yourself that it is likely time limited. It is also helpful to remember that “social distancing and isolation are not meant to be a punishment but a way to protect the work and treatment you already have undergone to treat or manage your illness. It is the best way we know how to maintain your health.” (Balliet, 2020)

It can be easy to zone out or even be in a state of holding your breath, just waiting for things to get back to normal, but this actually increases anxiety and irritability and can contribute to a sense of hopelessness and frustration. Now, more than ever, it is important to implement practices for increasing feelings of well-being and connectedness and lowering stress. So what can cancer patients and their loved ones do to survive and thrive during extended isolation?

Focus on strengths. For cancer patients and survivors, it can be helpful to focus on what they’ve already come through – the strength and courage they found to get them through whatever challenges they have already faced, and the tools and resources that helped them do that. Writing these things down in a journal or on a piece of paper they can post somewhere they will see it can be a good tool to have when things start to feel hopeless or overwhelming.

Smile and connect. If you are a patient and are continuing to come to medical visits, the landscape has changed. Having to wear a mask, have your temperature taken, and answer questions to enter a building, plus not being able to have your loved ones with you for support can be provoke feelings of anxiety. Remember you are not alone. Smile when you pass someone. Make small talk in the elevator. You will be amazed what these small acts can do to lift your spirits and the spirits of those around you. (Balliet, 2020)

Use Online Support. The use of the free online platforms for support groups, counseling, classes, and presentations offered by Cancer Support Community allow patients to take an active role in their care and limit the information overload that comes from channel surfing or too much time on social media. Become a member of Cancer Support Community North Texas to access free counseling and support groups. Access our virtual classes and presentations here.

Look for opportunities to do things in a new way. If you are tired of video chats with friends and family, get creative with it: play online versions of classic games like Clue, Monopoly, and Uno; make a favorite recipe together while on FaceTime, Messenger, or Zoom; watch movies with friends on Netflix Party, or start a virtual book group. Reconnect by text or phone calls with friends and family you haven’t talked to in a while. Check in on others more than you normally would. Take your morning coffee, breakfast, or dinner outside and enjoy the fresh air. Read new books. Watch uplifting and humorous television shows that aren’t your regular go to shows or genres.

Focus on what’s good. It can be easy to get caught up in the latest Coronavirus statistics or political debates about social distancing, but there is also a lot of good and kindness going on in the world right now: neighbors checking on one another, restaurants and schools offering free food to children, and strangers offering to grocery shop for vulnerable people. It can feel like the universe is against you when faced with the dual stress of cancer and the worry of catching COVID-19. “So, each time you look at the news, search for a ‘tell me something good’ story to help balance the narrative.” (Balliet, 2020)

Provide Acts of Kindness. Email someone you know who may be alone and scared just to let them know you are thinking of them. Write thank you notes to the people who have helped you. Write positive messages on social media if you use it. (Balliet, 2020)

Increase positive feelings. One way to do this is what Vice President of Clinical Services for Cancer Support Community Susan Ash-Lee calls “a spoon full of oxytocin.” Oxytocin is the “love hormone”, the feel-good hormone that is generated when we do things like pet animals, share a meal with someone, take a warm bath, give someone a hug, or say I love you. This feeling of well-being and connectedness can also be generated by practicing Loving Kindness Meditation or finding things in our lives that Ash-Lee calls “Hula Hoops and Tambourines” – those things that are unique to each one of us that make us giggle with delight. (Ash-Lee, 2020)

Create ways to center and calm yourself. Conscious breathing and mindfulness meditation are two ways to practice staying in the present moment, noticing what is, right now. You don’t have to be perfect at it. It’s a practice. It helps us bring our minds back to the present and away from worrying about the future and things we can’t control. You can find free mindfulness and other meditation videos on the Cancer Support Community Facebook page and on Youtube. There are also apps that offer guidance on breathing:  Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate, Breathe2Relax, Universal Breathing: Pranayama.

Use reliable sources of information. Keep yourself informed with official information from sources like the Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society. Take their recommendations seriously. Avoid unsubstantiated comments on social media.


MD Anderson Staff (2020, May 8) COVID-19: Businesses are reopening. Is it safe for cancer patients to go out? MD Anderson.–businesses-are-reopening–is-it-safe-for-cancer-patients-survivors-caregivers-to-go-out.h00-159381945.html

Balliet, W. (2020, March 25) Top 12 tips to relieve COVID-19 stress. Medical University of South Carolina.

Ash-Lee, S. (2020, April 28) Spotlight on Coronavirus: Coping with the Emotions. Interview by K. Thiboldeaux. Frankly Speaking About Cancer [Online Radio Show]. Retrieved from

For more information on lowering stress for cancer patients during the COVID-19 crisis, please see the following resources:

How Patients with Cancer, and Survivors, Can Manage Stress Through COVID-19 Uncertainty

Expert Q&A: Cancer, COVID-19 and Mental Health

Expert Advice: Cancer Care During COVID-19

Sobrellevando con COVID-19 y Reapertura para Pacientes con Cáncer

Los pacientes con cáncer son especialmente vulnerables al Coronavirus porque los tratamientos como la quimioterapia, la inmunoterapia, la radiación y los trasplantes de células madre pueden dar como resultado sistemas inmunes comprometidos. A pesar de que se están abriendo más lugares y la mayoría está cansada de quedarse en casa, aún es importante que cualquier persona con un sistema inmunitario comprometido continúe en su hogar tanto como sea posible. Otros miembros del hogar también deberían limitar sus salidas para reducir el riesgo de llevar el virus a sus seres queridos vulnerables. Si tiene que salir para citas médicas o mandados esenciales como comprar comestibles, use una máscara, lávese las manos con frecuencia y minuciosamente, y practique el distanciamiento social: manténgase a 6 pies de distancia de los demás. (MD Anderson Staff, 2020)

A medida que los negocios se abren y el mundo a su alrededor está volviendo a salir y socializar más, puede sentirse aún más estresante y aislado para continuar quedarse en casa, especialmente si está encerrado con niños u otros miembros de la familia y siente que no tiene tiempo para Ud. O, por el contrario, si vive solo y realmente desea poder tener contacto cara a cara con sus seres queridos. Los pacientes con cáncer, como todos los demás, quieren saber cuándo terminará esto, cuándo pueden salir y ver a su gente. Aunque no tenemos un marco de tiempo establecido para cuando termine la necesidad de practicar el distanciamiento social, puede ser útil recordar que es probable que sea por tiempo limitado. También es útil recordar que “el distanciamiento social y el aislamiento no están destinados a ser un castigo, sino una forma de proteger el trabajo y el tratamiento que ya ha recibido para tratar o controlar su enfermedad. Es la mejor manera en que sabemos cómo mantener su salud “. (Balliet, 2020)

Puede ser fácil desconectarse o incluso estar en un estado de contención de la respiración, solo esperando que las cosas vuelvan a la normalidad, pero esto en realidad aumenta la ansiedad y la irritabilidad y puede contribuir a una sensación de desesperanza y frustración. Ahora, más que nunca, es importante implementar prácticas para aumentar los sentimientos de bienestar y conexión y reducir el estrés. Entonces, ¿qué pueden hacer los pacientes con cáncer y sus seres queridos para sobrevivir y prosperar durante un aislamiento prolongado?

Centrarse en las fortalezas. Para los pacientes y sobrevivientes de cáncer, puede ser útil concentrarse en lo que ya han superado: la fuerza y ​​el coraje que encontraron para superar los desafíos que ya enfrentaron, y las herramientas y recursos que los ayudaron a hacerlo. Escribir estas cosas en un diario o en una hoja de papel que puedan publicar en algún lugar donde vean, puede ser una buena herramienta cuando las cosas comienzan a sentirse desesperadas o abrumadoras.

Sonría y conéctese. Si usted es un paciente y continúa asistiendo a consultas médicas, el panorama ha cambiado. Tener que usar una máscara, tomarse la temperatura y responder a preguntas para ingresar a un edificio, además de no poder tener a sus seres queridos con usted como apoyo, puede provocar sentimientos de ansiedad. Recuerde, no está solo. Sonría cuando pase a alguien. Haga una pequeña charla en el ascensor. Lo sorprenderá lo que estos pequeños actos pueden hacer para elevar su espíritu y el de los que lo rodean. (Balliet, 2020)

Utilice el soporte en línea. El uso de las plataformas en línea gratuitas para grupos de apoyo, asesoramiento, clases y presentaciones ofrecidas por Cancer Support Community les permite a los pacientes desempeñar un papel activo en su atención y limitar la sobrecarga de información que proviene de la navegación de canales o demasiado tiempo en las redes sociales.

Hágase miembro de Cancer Support Community para acceder a asesoramiento gratuito y grupos de apoyo aquí.

Acceda a nuestras clases y presentaciones virtuales aquí.

Busque oportunidades para hacer las cosas de una manera nueva. Si está cansado de chats de video con amigos y familiares, sea creativo con él: juege versiones en línea de juegos clásicos como Clue, Monopoly y Uno; hacer una receta favorita juntos mientras están en FaceTime, Messenger o Zoom; mire películas con amigos en Netflix Party o inicie un grupo de libros virtuales. Vuelve a conectarse mediante mensajes de texto o llamadas telefónicas con amigos y familiares con los que no ha hablado en mucho tiempo. Chequear a los demás más de lo que lo haría normalmente. Tome su café, desayuno o cena afuera y disfrute del aire fresco. Lee libros nuevos. Mira programas de televisión alentadores y humorísticos que no son habituales en programas o géneros.

Concéntrese en lo que es bueno. Puede ser fácil quedar atrapado en las últimas estadísticas de Coronavirus o debates políticos sobre el distanciamiento social, pero también hay muchas cosas buenas y amables en el mundo en este momento: vecinos que se controlan entre sí, restaurantes y escuelas que ofrecen comida gratis a niños y extraños que se ofrecen ir la tienda de comestibles para personas vulnerables. Puede sentir que el universo está en su contra cuando se enfrenta con el doble estrés del cáncer y la preocupación de contraer COVID-19. “Entonces, cada vez que mira las noticias, busque una historia de ‘cuéntame algo bueno ‘ para ayudar a equilibrar la narrativa”. (Balliet, 2020)

Proporcionar actos de bondad. Envíe un correo electrónico a alguien que conozca que pueda estar solo y asustado solo para informarle que está pensando en él. Escribe notas de agradecimiento a las personas que lo han ayudado. Escribe mensajes positivos en las redes sociales si lo usa. (Balliet, 2020)

Aumente los sentimientos positivos. Una manera de hacer esto es lo que la Vicepresidenta de Servicios Clínicos para la Comunidad de Apoyo al Cáncer, Susan Ash-Lee, llama “una cuchara llena de oxitocina”. La oxitocina es la “hormona del amor”, la hormona del bienestar que se genera cuando hacemos cosas como acariciar a animales de compañía, compartimos una comida con alguien, nos damos un baño caliente, le damos un abrazo o le decimos que te amo. Este sentimiento de bienestar y conexión también se puede generar al practicar la Meditación de Amabilidad y Amor o al encontrar cosas en nuestras vidas que Ash-Lee llama “Hulahopes y Panderetas”, esas cosas que son únicas para cada uno de nosotros y que nos hacen reír con alegría. (Ash-Lee, 2020)

Cree formas de centrarse y calmarse. La respiración consciente y la meditación de la atención plena son dos formas de practicar permanecer en el momento presente, notando lo que es, en este momento. No tiene que ser perfecto en eso. Es una practica. Nos ayuda a traer nuestras mentes a regresar al presente y lejos de preocuparnos por el futuro y las cosas que no podemos controlar. Puede encontrar la meditación de la atención plena y otros videos de meditación en la página de Facebook de la Comunidad de Apoyo para el Cáncer ( y en Youtube. También hay aplicaciones que ofrecen orientación sobre la respiración: Prana Breath: Calm & Meditate, Breathe2Relax, Universal Breathing: Pranayama.

Use fuentes confiables de información. Manténgase informado con información oficial de fuentes como el Centro para el Control de Enfermedades, la Organización Mundial de la Salud y la Sociedad Americana del Cáncer. Tome sus recomendaciones en serio. Evite los comentarios sin fundamento en las redes sociales.


MD Anderson Staff (2020, May 8) COVID-19: Businesses are reopening. Is it safe for cancer patients to go out? MD Anderson.–businesses-are-reopening–is-it-safe-for-cancer-patients-survivors-caregivers-to-go-out.h00-159381945.html

Balliet, W. (2020, March 25) Top 12 tips to relieve COVID-19 stress. Medical University of South Carolina.

Ash-Lee, S. (2020, April 28) Spotlight on Coronavirus: Coping with the Emotions. Interview by K. Thiboldeaux. Frankly Speaking About Cancer [Online Radio Show]. Retrieved from

Para obtener más información sobre cómo reducir el estrés en pacientes con cáncer durante la crisis de COVID-19, consulte los siguientes recursos:

How Patients with Cancer, and Survivors, Can Manage Stress Through COVID-19 Uncertainty:

Expert Q&A: Cancer, COVID-19 and Mental Health:

Expert Advice: Cancer Care During COVID-19:

Virtual Support for People Living with Cancer & their Loved Ones

During this difficult time where citizens of DFW counties have been ordered to “shelter in place,” Cancer Support Community North Texas has been working diligently to transition many of our support services to a virtual platform so that everyone can stay safe while still having access to much needed support.

Our support groups are up and running through Zoom for current members:

Wellness Support Group (for those in active treatment)

Family and Friends Support Group

Metastatic Support Group

Post Treatment Support Group

Living with Loss Support Group

Amigos Unidos (Spanish speakers support group)

We are also offering our membership process virtually. Our support groups are FREE to people living with cancer, survivors, as well as friends and family members. You just need to become a member of Cancer Support Community to access them. People can sign up for a virtual membership appointment by emailing one of our Program Managers:

Angela Sims, Dallas Program Manager:

Catherine Nandy, Plano Program Manager:

Stacey Birst-Yates, Fort Worth Program Manager:

In addition to our support groups, Cancer Support Community North Texas is offering many of the same classes and presentations that our members are used to attending in person on our Facebook page: These are available to the public. Here are a few examples: Cancer & Nutrition, Managing Pain, Clearing and Renewing Meditation, Gentle Exercise, Qigong, Understanding Disability (Spanish language video), Boredom Busters: Making Bath Bombs, and for the kiddoes – Making Slime, and many more. Each video premieres at a certain time and date and is then available permanently. For a complete list of our live and pre-recorded Facebook videos, just click on “Videos” on the menu at the left of the page.

Here are some other local virtual resources:

“Living with Breast Cancer and COVID-19. What you need to know about mastectomy and reconstruction surgery during this uncertain time”  –  video will premiere live on the AiRS Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery Facebook page this Thursday 4/2/2020:

“How to Overcome ANXIETY and FEAR in a Corona Virus World: The Spiritual Response” – InnerWellbeing (Spanish subtitles available):

Young Adult Virtual Support Group for anyone ages 18-39 who currently has or has had cancer in the past – Young Adult Support Program at Simmons Cancer Center UT Southwestern: contact Alex Huffman, LCSW, OSW-C, Clinical Social Worker at or text/call 214-267-UTYA (8892).

(the web page says support groups have been cancelled, but will be updated to reflect the virtual group)

Apoyo Virtual Para Personas Que Viven Con Cáncer Y Sus Seres Queridos

Durante este momento difícil en el que se ordenó a los ciudadanos de los condados de DFW “refugiarse en su lugar”, Cancer Support Community North Texas ha estado trabajando diligentemente para hacer la transición de muchos de nuestros servicios de apoyo a una plataforma virtual para que todos puedan mantenerse seguros y al mismo tiempo tener acceso a apoyo muy necesario.

Nuestros grupos de apoyo están funcionando a través de Zoom para los miembros actuales:

(Se incluye un calendario de nuestros grupos con este blog)

Grupo de apoyo para el bienestar (para aquellos en tratamiento activo)

Grupo de apoyo de familiares y amigos

Grupo de apoyo metastásico

Grupo de apoyo posterior al tratamiento

Grupo de apoyo para vivir con pérdidas

Amigos Unidos (grupo de apoyo para hispanohablantes)

También estamos ofreciendo nuestro proceso de membresía virtualmente. Nuestros grupos de apoyo son GRATUITOS para personas que viven con cáncer, sobrevivientes, así como para amigos y familiares. Solo necesita ser miembro de Cancer Support Community para acceder a ellos. Las personas pueden inscribirse para una cita de membresía virtual enviando un correo electrónico a uno de nuestros gerentes de programa:

Angela Sims, Gerente del Programa de Dallas:

Catherine Nandy, Gerente del Programa de Plano:

Stacey Birst-Yates, Gerente del Programa de Fort Worth:

Los hispanohablantes pueden llamar o enviar un correo electrónico a nuestra Especialista en Recursos para el Cáncer: Patricia Callahan


Además de nuestros grupos de apoyo, Cancer Support Community North Texas ofrece muchas de las mismas clases y presentaciones a las que nuestros miembros están acostumbrados a asistir en persona en nuestra página de Facebook: . Estos están disponibles para el público. Aquí hay algunos ejemplos: Cáncer y nutrición, Manejo del dolor, Meditación para la Limpieza y renovación de salud, Ejercicio suave, Qigong, Comprensión de la discapacidad (video en español), Aburrimiento: Hacer bombas de baño y para los niños – Hacer limo, y muchos más. Cada video se estrena en un momento y fecha determinados y luego está disponible de forma permanente. Para obtener una lista completa de nuestros videos existentes en Facebook, simplemente haga clic en “Videos” en el menú a la izquierda de la página.

Estos son algunos otros recursos virtuales que ofrecen los proveedores locales:

“Viviendo con Cáncer de Seno y COVID-19. Lo que necesita saber sobre la mastectomía y la cirugía de reconstrucción durante este tiempo incierto” – el video se estrenará en vivo en la página de Facebook de la Alianza AiRS en Cirugía Reconstructiva este jueves 4/2/2020:

“Cómo superar la ANSIEDAD y el MIEDO en un mundo de Virus Corona: La respuesta espiritual” – InnerWellbeing (subtítulos en español disponibles):

Grupo de Apoyo Virtual para Adultos Jóvenes para cualquier persona de entre 18 y 39 años que actualmente tenga o haya tenido cáncer en el pasado – Programa de apoyo para adultos jóvenes en Simmons Cancer Center UT Southwestern: comuníquese con Alex Huffman, LCSW, OSW-C, Trabajadora Social Clínica a o texto / llame al 214-267-UTYA (8892). (la página web dice que los grupos de apoyo han sido cancelados, pero se actualizarán para reflejar el grupo virtual)

Cancer Support Online

The health and well-being of our members, volunteers and staff is our first priority. Beginning March 13th, in response to growing concern over the pandemic, our in-person events and activities at our clubhouses have been temporarily suspended. We are monitoring the recommendations of local, state and national health organizations to determine when it will be safe to reopen our clubhouses.

We are still open and serving our community!

All of our programs and activities are available on digital platforms.

Our program staff facilitate support groups, networking groups and individual counseling via Zoom meetings. We post health and wellness videos and educational presentations on our Facebook page.

Our Cancer Resource Specialist assesses and refers survivors to appropriate resources and services in the community. She is available by phone or email at (214) 345-8428 and Please visit our Cancer Resources page for general cancer support resources.

You can still become a member!

The services and programs that we provide are completely free of charge to anyone impacted by cancer. Our licensed mental health professionals conduct New Member Meetings and Customized Membership Plans on an individual basis via phone or Zoom meetings. If you would like more information about membership at CSCNT, please send an email to

Additional Support Available Online

Cancer Support Helpline

(888) 793-9355 | Cancer Support Helpline

Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm CST

Saturday – Sunday, 8am-4pm CST

  • Short-term cancer counseling and emotional assistance
  • Short-term housing resources
  • Connecting callers to local or national resources, including support groups, transportation services and other programs
  • Treatment decision planning
  • Financial navigation and counseling regarding the costs of cancer and its treatments
  • Specialized information and navigation in pediatric oncology, finances, clinical trials, and genetics/genomics
  • Access to an online distress screening program, CancerSupportSource®
  • General information about the Cancer Support Community
Cancer Emergency Fund

1-888-409-4166 | Cancer Emergency Fund

Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm CST

Saturday – Sunday, 8am-4pm CST

The Cancer Support Community launched the Cancer Emergency Fund to provide support and financial assistance to those facing cancer who may be struggling with financial hardships

Open Homes for COVID-19 First Responders.

1-844-986-1650 | Open Homes for COVID-19 First Responders

Cancer Support Community and Airbnb are partnering to connect first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients — and safely distanced from their own families.

Our goal is to resume in-person programming at our clubhouses as soon as it is safe to do so. We will keep you informed on program updates through our website, social media and emails. For more information on our response to COVID-19, please click here. Thank you for your patience during this time.

What is ONE Run?

Saturday, March 7 is shaping up to be a glorious, early spring Dallas day! What better way to celebrate cancer survivors and all those supporting them than by starting the day with an invigorating and fun walk/run! ONE Run is a community-focused fun run benefiting Cancer Support Community North Texas, and we at CSCNT love planning it each year! It reminds us how important it is to shine a light on, support, and celebrate all cancer survivors and those supporting them, whenever we can. We have all been impacted by cancer, whether by a personal diagnosis or as a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor. Let’s also acknowledge the healthcare professionals who guide patients through their treatments to the other side – yes, we are all impacted. At every ONE Run there is nothing more inspiring than seeing that sea of excited, smiling participants, wearing their colorful, tie dyed t-shirts head out across the bridge into the bright early morning sun. And for us, there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that Cancer Support Community is doing so much to support everyone impacted by cancer in our local community. Our free program of support is truly amazing! We offer so much, all free of charge, but there is always more to do, more people to reach with our support. ONE Run helps us raise that awareness in our community, and each of us can do our bit by talking about Cancer support Community and sharing what we do. We are stronger together – so let’s enjoy this 9th ONE run, and on Monday, March 9th, we’ll start planning for our 10th annual ONE Run – truly a milestone to celebrate! For more information on this year’ ONE Run, check out It would be great to see you there!   Our 9th annual ONE Run is a community-focused fun run benefiting Cancer Support Community North Texas. One Run celebrates survivors of all cancer diagnoses and their loved ones with a 1K walk and 5K run. The fun continues with a party featuring music, dancing, free food & drinks, and lots of family friendly activities! ]]>

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits with Cancer

cancer, you may be concerned about making ends meet financially if you’ll be out of work while going through chemotherapy and other treatments. Fortunately, there could be resources available for you and your family. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for people in need. Thousands of people receive disability benefits after a cancer diagnosis every year.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Cancer

A cancer diagnosis alone will not qualify for disability benefits. The SSA will need evidence that you’ll be out of work for at least 12 months due to your cancer’s complications or treatment, or that your cancer is terminal.
Every form of cancer will qualify differently. For example, esophageal cancer will qualify with just a diagnosis, as will any form of cancer that has spread to another organ. Breast cancer, on the other hand, usually need to be advanced to Stage III-B or further to qualify.  Some cancers that are highly treatable, such as prostate cancer, will not qualify unless they’ve spread to another organ, returned despite treatment, or are an aggressive form of cancer, such as small-cell cancer.
The SSA uses its own medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate your specific cancer diagnosis. The entire Blue Book can be found online, so be sure to review it with your doctor to determine if you’ll medically qualify.

Compassionate Allowances and Social Security

The average Social Security disability claim takes about five months to be approved, but sometimes up to 2 years if your initial application is denied. Fortunately, this is not the case for people with advanced forms of cancer. The SSA started its Compassionate Allowance initiative in 2008 to help people with clearly disabling conditions get approved for the resources they need quickly. Cancers that will qualify as a Compassionate Allowance with just a diagnosis include:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Salivary and sinonasal cancers
  • Thyroid cancer

If you don’t have one of the above diagnoses, you could still qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. So long as one of the following is true, your claim will be expedited:

  • Your cancer has returned despite treatment (3 months or more usually qualifies)
  • Your cancer is inoperable
  • Your cancer has spread to other organs.

There are no additional steps you need to take when filling out your Social Security application when applying with a Compassionate Allowance, nor is there any additional paperwork for you to fill out. When you submit your application, the SSA will automatically flag your application for expedited review. Instead of waiting for 5+ months to hear back from the SSA, you could be approved in as little as 10 days.

Starting Your Disability Application

Most applicants can complete the entire Social Security application entirely online. This is the easiest way to apply for disability benefits, as you can save your progress and complete the application at a later date.
If you’d prefer to apply in person, you’ll need to make an appointment with a Social Security field office. There are more than 1,300 offices nationwide, and every state has at least four offices. Regardless of how you apply, be sure to fill out your application as carefully and thoroughly as possible.


Cancer Support Community North Texas:
Medical Evidence:
Blue Book:
Compassionate Allowances:
Local Offices:
Apply Online:
Disability Benefits Help is an independent organization, not affiliated with the Social Security Administration, dedicated to helping people of all ages receive Social Security disability benefits. If you have any questions on how to qualify with cancer or about the disability process in general, feel free to reach out to their team at
For more cancer support resources, please visit our Resource & Referrals page here or contact our Resource Specialist, Patricia Callahan.]]>

Breakfast with Santa

Letters to Santa MailboxesGavin, who lost his mom to cancer when he was young, wanted to use his Eagle Scout Project to support and encourage other kids whose families have been impacted by the disease. He decided to organize a toy drive so that each child who came to CSCNT’s annual Breakfast with Santa would receive a surprise from the man in the red suit. With the help of his Boy Scout troop, he created collection boxes that he left with local businesses and schools, and he made three exquisite mailboxes for letters to Santa that were placed in each CSCNT clubhouse. Behind the scenes, CSCNT staff called the parents and grandparents of the kids involved in our “Noogieland” support program to request gift ideas. Kids opening presentsAfter the toy drive was completed, the presents were taken to the CSCNT admin offices where volunteers from SMU and the Junior League of Dallas carefully selected and wrapped a present for each child based on the list of interests provided by their parents. The morning of the party, Gavin, his Boy Scouts troop and Troop Leader, his family, and Cancer Support Community staff and Board Members arrived to cook breakfast and make sure the clubhouse was ready for Santa! Gavin’s Dad, Scott, put on the red suit as the Boy Scouts served pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit to the families as they arrived. After a morning filled with delicious food and fun holiday crafts, the kids gathered in the “living room” where the tree and presents were cheerily displayed. Santa gave each child their gift and the excitement of unwrapping and opening presents ensued! Santa talks with familyGavin’s toy drive was so successful that he was not only able to provide toys for each child at Breakfast with Santa, but also for the children who came to all the holiday parties at each of the three Cancer Support Community locations in North Texas. The extra toys and the donated gift cards provided additional support for the holiday season for families in the CSCNT community who have had a difficult year financially. Gavin’s project united the efforts of his Boy Scout troop, the philanthropy of local businesses and schools, and the donated time of SMU students and Junior League of Dallas volunteers to provide a joyful and magical holiday party for families and kids that have experienced the impact of cancer this year. If you have been impacted by cancer and would like to learn how to become involved at CSCNT, you can learn more here or email us at   Boy Scouts serve breakfastChristmas tree with presents at cancer support community]]>