Regional Cancer Center ~ Erie, PA

Resources for Patients and Families Living with Cancer

Erie County Cancer Control Task Force

Find resources for:


Diagnosis

Many people diagnosed with cancer want to be involved in making decisions regarding their treatment plan. There are many resources that will help you find out more about the disease. One of the most important resources you will have regarding your cancer diagnosis is your Primary Care Physician. Your physician will help guide you through the process of follow up and referrals to best meet your needs. If you are seeking a primary care physician you can call:

Healthy Woman Program (HWP)
www.pahealthywoman.org
1 (800) 215-7494
The HealthyWoman Program (HWP) is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This program is for women who are uninsured or in a low income bracket (250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines). Services provided by Adagio Health with several offices in Erie, PA. If breast or cervical cancer is detected through the HWP, you will be able to receive free treatment through the Department of Public Welfare’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program.

FORCE – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
www.facingourrisk.org
Toll-free helpline: 866-288-7475, ext 704
FORCE is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Our mission includes support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research specific to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Our programs serve anyone with a BRCA mutation or a family history of cancer. If you believe that breast or ovarian cancer runs in your family, you may want to contact a board-certified cancer genetic counselor, geneticist, or equally-qualified health care provider. These health care professionals can help determine your risk for hereditary cancer. Although they cannot tell you whether you will or won’t get cancer, these experts can calculate a statistical range of your risk for certain cancers.


Breast Health Navigators

  • Saint Vincent
    Contact: (814) 452-7728 or lbrennan@svhs.org
    • The Women’s Center at Saint Vincent provides a breast health nurse navigator to help breast cancer patients through the diagnostic process. She also aids in finding solutions to obstacles such as insufficient and/or no insurance, overwhelming paperwork, transportation issues, language and cultural barriers, the need for child or elder care, inadequate health literacy and fear of the side effects of cancer therapy.
  • UPMC Hamot
    Contact: (814) 877-5395 or www.hamotforwomen.org
    • The breast health navigation program provides education and emotional support for patients and family members and acts as a liaison between the patient and treatment. With guidance from the breast health navigators, patients can count on the timely delivery of diagnostics, treatment, and follow-up services, key components to successful recovery.

Treatment

Cancer is generally thought of as one disease; however, cancer is actually a general name for more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells grow out of control. Conventional treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and surgery.

  • Chemotherapy is the use of medications/drugs to treat the cancer. These are most commonly administered intravenously (through a vein), orally, and topically (directly applied on the skin’s surface). There are other, less common, means of administration as well. The drugs used are determined by the type and stage of the cancer.
  • Radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays to stop or slow the cancer from growing. Other terms for radiation are x-ray therapy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy, and irradiation.
  • Certain cancers are fueled by hormones. Hormone therapy is the use of medications to block the cancer cells from the hormones that encourage cell growth.
  • Surgery is the removal of the tumor and any associated tissue surrounding the tumor.

At times, a combination of therapies is used to treat the cancer. Different cancers are treated in different ways. Many factors are regarded in making a treatment decision. Your oncologist (physician specializing in cancer) should discuss all options and possible side-effects of each treatment.


Complementary Treatments

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), also known as Integrative Medicines, are healing practices that complement mainstream medicine, based on the holistic treatment of the disease. There are many different types of therapeutic disciplines, including but not limited to the following:

  • Acupuncture/acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Diet/Nutritional therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

It is extremely important to become well informed regarding alternative treatments. Many nutritional supplements used in CAM can interact negatively with chemotherapy and radiation. However, stress reduction therapies, such as meditation, massage, and yoga can be safe and beneficial for cancer patients. More information about Complementary and Alternative Medicine is available at the NCI's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) website. It is recommended you talk to your health care provider before beginning any complementary therapy.


Clinical Trials

Clinical trials, or investigational treatments, are taken place as part of a research study. The study follows a “protocol” or precise study plan for executing the clinical trial to assure the safety and health of the patient, or subject. Patients may benefit by receiving drugs/medications that are otherwise unavailable. To find out more about clinical trials or if they are right for you, you can talk to your oncologist or contact:


Financial Assistance for Medications, Medical Expenses and Equipment

  • Erie County Assistance Office
    (814) 461-2000
    • Residents of Pennsylvania can seek assistance and a range of services for themselves and their families from professionally trained staff members at county assistance offices. You can also apply for and renew your benefits from the comfort of your home using COMPASS, the online resource for cash assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), help with child care, health care coverage, home heating assistance (LIHEAP), school meals, SelectPlan for Women and long-term living services.
  • NeedyMeds
    www.needymeds.org
    • NeedyMeds is a non-profit information resource devoted to helping people in need find assistance programs to help them afford their medications and costs related to health care.
  • PACE, PACENET, and PACE Plus Medicare
    1-800-225-7223 or visit website
    • PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare are Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older.
  • CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation
    1-866-55-COPAY or 1-866-552-6729 http://cancercarecopay.org
    • The CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation is a nonprofit organization that helps people being treated for cancer afford co-payments for chemotherapy and targeted treatment drugs, ensuring their access to care for prescribed treatments.
  • Chronic Disease Fund
    1-877-968-7233 or http://www.cdfund.org
    • Chronic Disease Fund® is an independent non-profit charitable organization that helps patients with chronic disease, cancer and other life-altering conditions who have private insurance or a Medicare Part D plan but cannot afford the cost of their medications.
  • HealthWell Foundation
    1-800-675-8416 or http://www.healthwellfoundation.org/
    • When health insurance is not enough, HealthWell fills the gap. We help patients living with chronic and life-altering illnesses pay their share of prescription drug copayments, deductibles, and health insurance premiums.
  • Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation
    1-866-316-PANF, 1-866-316-7263 or http://www.panfoundation.org/
    • PAN is an independent non-profit organization that provides assistance to underinsured patients for their out-of-pocket expenses for life-saving medications.
  • Rx Outreach
    1-800-769-3880 or http://www.rxoutreach.org/
    • Rx Outreach is a non-profit charitable organization. Our focus is on supporting low-income individuals and families who cannot afford the medicine they need to sustain or improve their quality of life. We offer over 400 different medications through our mail-order pharmacy.
  • Fertile Hope
    1-855-220-7777 or http://www.fertilehope.org/
    • Fertile Hope is a national LIVESTRONG initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.
  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Patient Financial Aid Program
    1-800-955-4572 or visit website
    • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) provides a limited amount of financial assistance to help patients with significant financial need and who are under a doctor's care for a confirmed blood cancer diagnosis. This program is supported entirely by public contributions and patient aid funds are subject to availability.
  • Linked By Pink
    www.linkedbypink.org 814-969-5957 email: info@linkedbypink.org
    • Linked by Pink is a local non-profit that raises awareness and provides emotional and financial support for young breast cancer survivors. Medical Grants, College Scholarships and Gift Bags for patients are available.
  • StringsforaCURE
    (814) 520-1563 or www.stringsforacure.com
    • StringsforaCURETM Foundation founder Elisa Guida is a professional jeweler and two-time breast cancer survivor. Our mission is to educate, comfort and support cancer patients, focusing on the breast cancer patient. Submit an application for gift cards for gas, groceries, prescription medications, or lymphedema supplies: gloves, sleeves, compression garments.
  • C.H.O.S.E.N.
    (814) 833-3023 or www.chosenmissionproject.com
    • CHOSEN provides medical equipment and supplies to those who cannot afford them. The supplies are available based on donation to CHOSEN.
  • Asbury Methodist Church Ramps of Hope
    • Any resident of Millcreek Township may call our church office (833-9053) to see if we can build a ramp for them. Erie County residents that live outside of Millcreek can call "Ramps of Hope" director Debbie Hills at (440) 812-4624 | (814) 833-9053 http://asburyerie.org/590528.ihtml
  • Saint Vincent Community Care Program
    (814) 452-5011 or visit website
    • The Community Care Program has been developed to assist patients in financial need, due to a lack of health insurance coverage, with their accounts at Saint Vincent.
  • UPMC Hamot Patient Accounting
    (814) 877-6146 or visit website
    • UPMC Hamot has a charity care policy available for those people meeting certain eligibility guidelines.

Assistance: Food

  • Angel Food Ministries
    (814) 898-1999
    • Provides groceries to patients at a minimal cost to the patient. The program has a monthly menu.
  • Meals on Wheels
    (814) 452-6930
    • Our delivery area is the City of Erie and Millcreek Township. This area is from Lake Erie to I-90 and Asbury Road to Nagle Road. If you live outside these areas, we cannot deliver to you. Office hours are 8AM to 4PM Monday – Friday. Applying is simple and can be done right over the phone. A three-day per week minimum is required for all meal programs.
  • GECAC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program
    (814) 459-4581 ext. 400 or visit website
    • Through the Department of Agriculture, Erie County residents 60 years of age and older may be eligible to receive vouchers to purchase fruits and vegetables from Farmer’s Market Stands. FMNP offers four $5 vouchers to be utilized at any of the 52 local participant vendors. The program runs from June through September.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank
    (814) 459-3663 or http://www.eriefoodbank.org/
    • Complete list of local food pantries, operating hours, and requirements available on the website.

  • Erie County Bar Association
    (814) 459-3111 or visit https://www.eriebar.com/public-home
    • The Erie County Bar Association (ECBA) is a non-profit, professional association of judges and lawyers. The ECBA strives to provide valuable services to both its membership and our community. At the Erie County Bar Association we offer many services to assist the public including the Lawyer Referral and Information Services (LRIS) , E-Law, an online resource to help you understand the basics of many different areas of the law, and our Speaker’s Bureau.
  • Northwest Legal Services
    (814) 452-6957 or visit http://www.nwls.org/
    • Northwestern Legal Services (NWLS) is a private non-profit corporation dedicated to providing free legal representation to low income people with civil legal problems.

Home Healthcare

There are numerous agencies that provide home care aides, respite care, companions, specialized home care, palliative care and hospice. You should speak with your physician and social worker to discuss which level of care is best for you. Some services are covered by insurance while others are not.

Homemaker & Chore Services

Many organizations offer to help cancer patients and their families with tasks/activities of everyday living. Private duty aides are available through some home care agencies or contact your health care team for a specific referral.

  • Community Resources for Independence
    (814) 838-7222
    • Income based assistance.
  • Love INC. (Love in the Name of Christ)
    (814) 664-7287 (call Mon-Thurs 9am-noon)
    • Operates a phone center in southern Erie County to act as a clearing house to aid those who need help. Love INC identifies gaps in services and resources in the community and helps churches develop programs to “fill in the gaps”. Currently, their Gap Ministries provide the following free products and services: used furniture and appliances, household and kitchen items, personal care products, school back packs and supplies, transportation, budget counseling, winter apparel, fire wood, linens, and small household repairs.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families at every stage of their illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems: physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Speak with your health care team for referrals and additional information.

Physical Therapy Programs

  • Keystone Rehabilitation Systems
    (814) 860-7816 – Elizabeth Darling, DPT, OCS, CLT, ATC Amanda Scully, DPT, CLT
    • Oncology Exercise Programs: Physical therapists with special training on developing exercise programs for patients going through all phases of cancer treatment. Programs can be designed to fight chemo-induced fatigue, restore strength, or improve cardiovascular fitness. – Breast Cancer Pre-op/Post-op Program: The patient will be seen before they undergo surgery to obtain baseline measurements and receive education on the surgical procedure, a basic exercise program, and the risk factors and preventive measures for Lymphedema. Follow up appointments are scheduled at 3 and 6 months post-surgery in order to monitor any restrictions that may limit the patient’s return to their previous level of activity. – Lymphedema treatment: Two certified Lymphedema therapists provide treatment to patients with upper extremity or lower extremity swelling.
  • UPMC Centers for Rehab Services
    (814) 877-6303 - Kay Maasz, MBA, PT, CLT and Cheryl Curtis, MPT
    2101 Nagle Road, Harborcreek 16510 - 1600 Peninsula Drive - Erie 16505 - 1325 West 26th Street Erie 16509
    • UPMC Centers for Rehab Services coordinates with UPMC Hamot Comprehensive Breast Health program to provide a comprehensive pre- and post-op lymphedema program. Pre-op measurements are obtained in the surgeon’s office and follow-up physical therapy appointments are prescribed. Lymphedema treatment: Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) consists of Manual Lymph Drainage (MDL), compression bandaging, exercise, and education. – Treatment for women’s and men’s health: Incontinence, rectal or pelvic pain and post prostate surgery.

Hospice Services

The overall aim of hospice care is to preserve the quality of life and provide patients with comfort and dignity when medical treatment is no longer helping. Hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient's needs and wishes. Support is provided to the patient's loved ones as well.

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and, in most cases, care is provided in the patient's home. Hospice care also is provided in hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Hospice services are available to patients of any age, religion, race, or illness. Hospice care is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations. Speak with your health care team for referrals and additional information.

Breast Prostheses & Accessories

  • Blackburn’s
    (814) 454-2863
  • MedCare (formerly Great Lakes Home Health Services)
    (814) 877-6631
  • Green Prosthetics & Orthotics, LLC
    (814) 833-2311
  • PA Artificial Limb & Brace CO
    (814) 868-5231
  • Saint Vincent Hospital
    (814) 452-5879
  • Villa Medical Supply
    (814) 866-1999

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment may be prescribed by your physician. Your medical team will refer you to an appropriate provider based on your individual needs.

Health Education

  • Erie County Department of Health
    (814) 451-6700
    • Northwest PA Tobacco Control Program
      (814) 451-6784
  • LifeWorks Erie
    (814) 453-8755
  • The Regional Cancer Center
    (814) 836-2643
  • Saint Vincent Hospital
    (814) 452-5500
  • UPMC Hamot Health Connection
    (814) 877-6145

Counseling Services/Crisis Hotline:

If you are interested in personal counseling, check with your medical team.

  • Crisis Hotline: Safe Harbor Behavioral Health: (814) 456-2014

Support Groups

General Support

  • Thrivers
    Kyle Noyer: (814) 836-2678
    • The Regional Cancer Center - For those with advanced cancer, several types of cancer, cancer that can’t be cured, or treatments that are no longer working.
  • Family/Caregiver Support
    Ann Marie Cronk: (814) 836-2618
    • The Regional Cancer Center
  • Prayer & Sharing Cancer Support Group
    Deacon Tom Metuzak
    deacontom@holytrinityrc.org or (814) 456-0671
    St. Mark’s Center 429 E. Grandview (Erie)
  • Look Good, Feel Better
    1-800-227-2345
    • American Cancer Society - Look Good Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. Group programs are open to all women with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or other forms of treatment. One-on-one programs are also available.

Support for Children

  • Children’s Support Group (CLIMB)
    Ann Marie Cronk: (814) 836-2618
    • The Regional Cancer Center
  • Rainbows
    (814) 824-1250 elandini@eriercd.org
    • Catholic Charities Diocese of Erie - Rainbows provides a bridge to emotional healing for youth and their families that are grieving a death, divorce, separation or any other painful transition in their family. It is a safe, loving environment for these young people to sort through their pain and confusion. There are four programs of support: ### Rainbows - for children in the elementary grades;
      1. Spectrum - for adolescents who live in single-parent families or stepfamilies;
      2. Kaleidoscope - a 12-section peer support program for adults dealing with unresolved grief due to any type of parental loss; and
      3. Prism - support for single parents, step-parents and for parents whose children are in the Rainbows program.
  • Highmark Caring Place
    866-212-4673
    • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield - The Highmark Caring Place champions the cause of grieving children by creating awareness of their needs, providing programs for them and their families, and empowering the community to effectively support them.

Support for Breast Cancer

  • Breast Cancer Support Group
    Diane Simon: (814) 838-2600
    • The Regional Cancer Center
  • lym Breast Cancer Support
    (814) 969-5957 or email: info@linkedbypink.org
    • Linked By Pink is a local non-profit that raises awareness and provides emotional and financial support for young breast cancer survivors. One-on-one and peer group support available.
  • Reach to Recovery
    800-227-2345
    • American Cancer Society - For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program has helped people (female and male) cope with their breast cancer experience. Reach to Recovery volunteers provide support through face-to-face visits or by phone.

Support for Prostate Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer Support Group
    (814) 899-3709

Support for Leukemia and Lymphoma

  • Leukemia/Lymphoma Support Group
    Saint Vincent Women’s Center
    800-726-2873 ×2882
  • First Connection (Leukemia/Lymphoma)
    800-726-2873 ×2882

Support for Ostomy Care

  • Saint Vincent Women’s Center
    814-452-7214

Bereavement Support

  • GriefShare
    First Alliance Church: Elaine Davison (814) 833-6435 or hmin3@msn.com,
    Girard Alliance Church: (814) 774-4657
    Living Waters Church: (814) 333-6170
    • First Alliance Church, Girard Alliance Church, Living Waters Church - GriefShare is a special seminar and support group for people grieving the loss of someone close.
  • Bereavement Support Group
    (814) 877-6120
    Great Lakes Hospice
  • Bereavement Support Group
    VNA Hospice
  • Bereavement Support Group
    (814) 664-5911
    Corry Regional Hospice Home Health
  • Bereavement Support Group
    (814) 848-5990
    Heartland Hospice
  • Bereavement Support Group
    (814) 456-6689
    Hospice of Metropolitan-Erie

Transportation

  • American Cancer Society: Road to Recovery: (814) 866-5174
  • EMTA: (814) 452-3515
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center: 800-274-8387 ext. 2095

Hats/Headscarves/Wigs

  • Patti Myers Hair Fashions
    3865 Walker Blvd Erie, PA 16509
    (814) 868-3094
  • Regional Cancer Center
    “Mad danas” available for $8
    (814) 838-9000
  • Simply Scarves (Home parties or one-on-one sessions)
    www.simply-scarves.com janetkassir@hotmail.com
    (814) 464-7136
  • “tlc” Tender Loving Care Hair loss and mastectomy products.
    Profits reinvested in the American Cancer Society.
    www.tlcdirect.org
  • Wig Fashions by Carrie
    1914 East 38th Street Erie, PA 16510
    (814) 824-9447

This resource listing is a reference for patients, families and providers. It is maintained and updated by the Erie County Cancer Control Task Force which is a collaborative effort of:

  • The Erie County Department of Health
  • The American Cancer Society
  • Corry Memorial Hospital
  • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • UPMC Hamot
  • Regional Cancer Center
  • Saint Vincent Hospital
  • United Healthcare
  • LECOM

Updated: January 2014

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