Toxicity is a word that describes many things related to a cancer diagnosis. There is toxicity from the medication we take; we are concerned about the toxicity of the substances in the world around us, in the food we eat, in the things we put on or in our body; however, in my humble opinion, there isn’t much of a spotlight on the horrendous financial toxicity that accompanies a diagnosis.
Having been a lawyer all of my professional life, I’ve personally worked with and walked through a variety of crises, I was still shocked at the far reaching effects of financial toxicity. The sheer amount of go-fund-me accounts and wish-lists and just requests for help has been astonishing to me. I see women going through the worst crisis of their entire lives who have to get up and go to work every single day to keep insurance, to keep a roof over their heads and it’s awful. The herculean efforts to appear normal and put together when the toxic effects of a cancer diagnosis eats away at anything that is good is not helpful
After noticing how many women are turning to Legal Zoom or online forms or forums or legal advice from non-lawyers, I decided to intervene. No one who knows me would be surprised how I began commenting on posts or calling and doing my own research to connect women with lawyers able to help. There is so much that so many don’t know! I know how blessed I’ve been that I have so many attorney friends–I’ve a pretty extensive database of people I can call on when I meet someone who needs help that I’m expanding all the time.
Connect IV Legal Services was born and officially became a 501(c)(3) on January 1, 2019. Why? Because there is such a need and because I want to be able to offer tax deductibility to anyone willing to help. I’ve not encountered many who weren’t willing to help and there is such a need in the breast cancer community, but especially within the metastatic community. The fact remains that I, as a lawyer, can often get past the gate keepers and it is also harder to say no to a fellow member of the bar rather than an individual.
If you or someone you know needs legal help, here are some general tips:
- Most communities have local Bar Associations. Usually this is not the state Bar Association, but one in your local community. Sometimes this local Bar Association is named for your town or maybe your county. Doing a google search for your community and “Bar Association” usually turns up something. Once connected to the proper organization, the best thing to ask for is their medically needy group. It can take some time and effort to get connected to the right place, but most organizations have this group.
- If a local Bar Association is not able to help, then looking at the website for the State-wide Bar Association could be helpful. There are usually lawyer referral services that may have a medically needy component, just not as often as local Bar Associations.
- Contacting your nurse navigator or patient advocate or social worker at your cancer center may net some local resources. We lawyers are often on boards or are connected to local organizations.
- Local law schools often offer clinics or have alumni groups of lawyers or law students willing to help for the educational experience or nominal fees.
- Referral organizations like Connect IV are often in specific communities.
If all else fails, send me a message. I’ve been able to steer many fellow metsters in the right direction and I’m always willing to make some calls and ask for help. I can be pretty tenacious when I need to be. 😉