LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Having cancer is a scary diagnosis that changes a person's entire life. There are so many things to think about and plan for-all while your body is just trying to fight.
That's why UAMS is trying to make things easier for all cancer patients in central Arkansas. They are hosting a clinic to provide free legal assistance and planning to cancer patients and survivors who need it most. It’s available for any patients who are diagnosed with cancer or who are in remission.
Dr. Sarah Harrington with the Palliative Care Program at UAMS said that for many patients, finding out they have cancer can bring about a lot of anxiety and worry.
“Whether it is curable or not curable, it completely changes their life,” she said.
She said she has been surprised that cancer patients aren’t usually as worried about the things most people may think of.
“If I ask them what their main concern is, they won’t say themselves. They'll say they are worried about their family.”
Dr. Harrington said she has seen a dramatic difference in patients and survivors who have taken advantage of UAMS's free legal assistance and estate planning clinic. She said they often feel better because various stressors are off their shoulders.
“I can tell you story after story of patients who have done some of the things they need to do at the clinic and then next week they come back and say they are sleeping better because they’re not up worried,” she said.
Over the last five years, more and more central Arkansas patients have sought this free legal assistance at the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Social workers say they hope this is only the beginning of additional services provided to these patients. UAMS Clinical Social Worker, Carrie Calhoun, said that because of the financial strain that a cancer diagnoses can have, many patients simply can't afford to have legal assistance.
“We have grown now to at least two clinics a year and we probably have enough need that we could grow to even more often than that,” said Calhoun. “I see us, in the future, having more legal clinics than we do now because we certainly have more appointments now than we did when we started.”
Calhoun said many cancer patients have to quit their jobs or go part time and it affects the bottom line for families. She's hoping with more awareness of this need, their clinic can continue to grow and help more people through a difficult time.
“There are not a lot of options like this around our area and we know, in general, this impacts all cancer patients,” she said. “We want to make it available to all Arkansas cancer patients who need it.”
The clinic will be held at the UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute on January 24. Attendees will meet individually with licensed local attorneys from Rainwater to prepare wills, living wills and powers of attorney. Attendees will leave with notarized copies of their documents. The clinic is open to anyone in cancer treatment or who has completed treatment, based on financial need.
Advance reservations are required by contacting the UAMS Cancer Institute Social Work Department at 501-603-1612 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The event will take place in the Patient Support Pavilion on the first floor of the UAMS Cancer Institute. Free parking is available in parking deck 3 at the corner of Cedar Street and Capitol Avenue.
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