By Courtney McHugh, MSW, LSW, Lead Navigator, Family Reach  |  May 17, 2023

How to Ask for Financial Support During Cancer Treatment

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you may find yourself sorting through a lot of information — treatment schedules, medications, etc. — and it’s easy for questions about money to get overlooked.

Even if financial questions are top of mind, we know that asking for help paying your housing, food, and utility bills during cancer treatment can be difficult. Money is personal, and many families aren’t sure who to talk to about it. Just remember, you’re not alone — up to 73% of cancer patients experience financial hardship as the result of a cancer diagnosis.1

Courtney McHugh

Courtney McHugh, Family Reach

You deserve the best care and support, regardless of your financial situation. Use the following tips to start a conversation about finances with someone you trust on your care team.

Prepare for the Conversation

  • Write down the questions you want to ask. What are you the most worried about affording during cancer treatment? These could be treatment-related costs like copays or non-medical expenses like housing, utilities, and food. What bills or payment processes would it be helpful to have someone explain to you step-by-step?
  • Consider who you feel the most comfortable with. You can talk to someone in your community or anyone on your care team — including your doctor, nurse, social worker, patient navigator, or therapist — about your financial concerns.
  • Be prepared to take notes during the conversation. You can also ask for written materials to review later or bring along a friend or family member to listen with you.

Bonus tip: Family Reach financial guidebooks are a great resource to help prepare for your conversations and manage your finances during cancer treatment.

Start the Conversation

  • Share your financial concerns. For example: “I’m worried about missing work and paying my bills.” Expressing your worries honestly will allow you to get the best support from your care team.
  • Ask questions. For example:
    • Can you help me find financial support for my rent/food/transportation?
    • Are there options to help me pay for treatment?
    • What will my insurance cover?
    • Can you help me apply for financial support from Family Reach?

Take Steps Toward Financial Relief

  • Follow the steps that your care team shared with you. This could be contacting a certain non-profit, looking into specific government benefits, or scheduling an appointment with a financial coach.
  • Call, email, or write down questions before your next appointment. It’s okay to ask someone to repeat or clarify information.

Not all of this advice will apply to you, but the most important thing you can do is ask for help. While it can be difficult, asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength and resiliency. You know the most about your situation, and there’s a whole community of non-profits, health care professionals, and federal organizations ready to support you.

View the full tip sheet here.


  1. Thomas G. Knight, Melissa Aguiar, Myra Robinson, Allison Martin, Tommy Chen, Rupali Bose, Jing Ai, Brittany K. Ragon, Aleksander L. Chojecki, Nilay A. Shah, Srinivasa R. Sanikommu, James Symanowski, Edward A Copelan, Michael R. Grunwald; Financial Toxicity Intervention Decreases Mortality in High Risk Hematologic Malignancy Patients. Blood 2020; 136 (Supplement 1): 14–15. doi:


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