Within the Liberty HealthShare community, we prioritize health and financial stewardship as far as they depend on us as members, but we also understand that life can hold accidents, diagnoses, or health outcomes we didn't see coming. Trusting God with the fact that life is unpredictable while doing everything we can to remain healthy is just part of the journey. Bearing burdens for our fellow members when they are faced with an unexpected diagnosis or injury is why Liberty exists.

woman-hands-macbook laptop-notebook.jpgWhile we often bemoan the negative effects technology has on our lives, we can't deny that the nearly unlimited supply of information we can now access from practically anywhere can be very useful. Medical providers don't recommend using the internet for self-diagnosis, however, most of us, when diagnosed with a disease or injury, do at least a little research to shore up our knowledge. Virtually every disease and disorder known to man has an awareness site, making it possible for patients to not only find community, but also become better educated about their particular situation.

Here on the Liberty HealthShare blog, we don't give out medical advice. We prefer to stay out of that part of your experience and instead encourage members to cultivate a good relationship with their providers. However, we do love to equip our members with tools and information they can use as they engage with their health and providers. Since February is National Cancer Prevention Month, we want to use this space to provide a few resources and briefly touch on an often misunderstood type of the disease.

Cancer is a term with a lot of baggage. Practically everyone has been touched by it in some way, either personally or through a loved one. The word strikes fear into the hearts of most, but there are ways to face and mitigate that fear, starting with prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of cancer can be reduced simply by making healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthy, staying active, and avoiding smoking. National Cancer Prevention Month is a great time to re-evaluate your habits and commit to doing everything you can to increase your health. Make sure you're also talking to your healthcare provider(s) about risk factors and early detection of disease.

Another opportunity to get involved in raising awareness in your community is World Cancer Day, which is marked each year on February 4th. This year's World Cancer Day has passed, but if you or a loved one have been personally touched by cancer, you can get involved next year by joining with others all over the world in recognizing the need for continued research and education to save millions from a preventable death.

One of the difficulties cancer patients and their loved ones face is that not everyone understands their diagnosis, how it affects them, and what the long-term effects are. From cancer type to cancer type, causes, treatments, and prognoses can vary widely. Some are rarer than others, which can mean less information and support for those who develop them.

One example of this is mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that results from exposure to asbestos. Sadly, symptoms of mesothelioma are often misidentified, leading to delayed diagnosis. In response, the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness (MAA) Center aims to function as a resource for patients, family, friends, and caregivers and to fight misinformation concerning the disease. This is only one of many kinds of cancer whose victims suffer from a lack of understanding, which is why new disease-specific awareness organizations are formed each day.

If you or a loved one are facing a cancer diagnosis, the American Cancer Society's website is a great place to find information and support from others. There you will find helpful resources related to many types of cancer, in addition to links that will take you to support programs. Your provider may also have helpful resources to share with you, your loved ones, and caregivers. A simple web search should also yield disease-specific resources, but a word of caution: not all sites are reputable. Use common sense and make sure to do your due diligence, especially when researching your disease and weighing whether to make a donation.

If you are a member and are navigating a cancer diagnosis, we encourage you to prioritize your relationship with your physician(s). Use them as a resource, maintain open lines of communication, and lean on them for their specialized knowledge. Make sure they understand that you are part of a healthcare sharing ministry and considered a self-pay patient so they can work with you to keep costs as low as is possible. As always, our goal here at Liberty HealthShare is to facilitate the sharing of burdens among our members as they face some of life's most difficult and unexpected developments. Don't hesitate to contact Member Services at 855-585-4237 with any questions. We look forward to serving and supporting you during this time.