Finding Stability

Making Meaningful Memories With Cancer: Organizations That Can Help

Don't let cancer keep you from making memories with your family.

Making memories with loved ones is often a top priority for those newly diagnosed, who don’t know what lies ahead, and for those whose prognosis is terminal. Cancer treatment often can stretch or deplete financial resources once set aside for things like vacations and family get-togethers.

If you’re experiencing cancer-related financial difficulties, making meaningful memories with cancer isn’t out of your reach. Depending on your cancer situation, tap into these charitable resources and organizations. They provide free or low-cost programs to give you and your loved ones moments you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

If You’re a Child

Chances are you’ve heard of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This nonprofit organization arranges wish experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses. Recipients must be at least 2 1/2 years old and younger than 18.

If your child is hospitalized, the Starlight Children’s Foundation will bring the joy to them. Special programs include celebrity visits and virtual reality adventures.

The Coalition Against Pediatric Pain and the Pediatric Oncology Resource Center also maintain lists of other wish-granting organizations focused on children with cancer or other critical illnesses.

If You’re an Adult

The Dream Foundation helps fulfill final dreams for terminally ill adults with nine months or less to live, who otherwise couldn’t afford it. The nationwide nonprofit also provides toys to young children whose parent has cancer.

The Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer Foundation focuses on adults ages 18 to 39 living with cancer. Its free six-day Base2Summit cancer camp in Northern Michigan includes hiking, canoeing and other activities. The Michigan-based nonprofit maintains a database of young adult and adult cancer camps, with activities as diverse as surfing in Hawaii, snowboarding in Oregon, or volunteering in far-flung locales, such as India. The foundation also provides related travel assistance to qualified individuals, for their camp and others.

If You’re a Young Parent

Through its all-expenses-paid Legacy Retreats, Inheritance of Hope helps families with children under 18, where the parent is facing a terminal illness, create lasting memories. These group retreats include licensed counselors and volunteers who help children cope with a parent’s or caregiver’s terminal diagnosis. Past retreats have gone to theme parks in Orlando and to Broadway shows in New York City.

If You’re on Hospice

The Lighthouse of Hope Fund offers grants of up to $2,500 to help limited-income adults and children on hospice afford end-of-life experiences. Recipients must be under the care of a National Hospice & Palliative Care provider member, who will submit the application. Past recipients have used the grants to fly in loved ones for an early Christmas, to celebrate a special dinner, and to go to the beach.

Numerous other wish-granting and experience organizations exist. Some experiences may be specific to your cancer, such as Little Pink Houses of Hope, which offers free week-long vacations to those with breast cancer and their families. Don’t forget to contact organizations within your own community. For example, your school district may have special programs for families in need during the holidays.

Your cancer center may also offer free programs, such as art, exercise and cooking classes, for both you and your family. Talk to your cancer center’s social worker, too. They can identify additional resources to help you make meaningful memories with cancer.

Talk to a UVA Cancer Center social worker to find out what resources are available to help you make meaningful memories during cancer.

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Rita Colorito