Last year, while working on a coping series for the American Brain Tumor Association, I learned of the Bloch Cancer Hotline in Kansas City, MO. The hotline was founded 30 years ago by Richard and Annette Bloch after Richard Bloch’s diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. Richard experienced many challenges in negotiating his cancer care. With a second opinion and perseverance, he survived for many years after his diagnosis. This personal experience prompted Richard and his wife to dedicate their life’s work to giving hope to cancer patients.
Today, staffed with over 500 volunteers, this free hotline comprises a broad group of cancer survivors who are available to speak with and offer education to newly diagnosed cancer patients. What makes this hotline unique? Vangie Rich, director of the foundation answers, “We take great effort to match the caller, after an intake, with a person who has the same diagnosis, so they can talk with someone in lay terms on what to expect.”
In addition to this individualized resource, the hotline's support extends beyond emotional support; “We also guide the caller to build skills - how to build a connection with your doctor, understand your cancer, proposed treatment or side effects. We don’t give medical advice, but do help people to cope and know they are not alone,” says Rich. The Hotline also offers coping literature, and can direct patients to appropriate treatment resources around the country. Currently, the hotline receives calls from around the world. Their materials are also translated in Spanish. Rich notes the mission of the hotline remains steadfast, “Too many people equate cancer with death—we want to give the message of hope and survivorship.”
If you are seeking support, or if you are survivor and would like to donate your time, contact the hotline at 1-800-433-0464.
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