Frequently Asked Questions

These are the pressing questions many of our patients and their families have had during their own journeys.

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions:

Why do I need a Cancer Sherpa?

We, each and every Cancer Sherpa have been where you are right now or have cared for someone who has. We will never tell you, “We know how you feel,” because we don’t, but we too have faced the uncertain terror that is being told you, or someone you love, has cancer and we are proof that this awful moment does not last forever. Each of us struggled to find or had to become our own sherpa, and had to simultaneously battle the healthcare system and cancer. We each were forced to beat our own path, but that also allowed us to identify the major stages and signposts of the journey on which you are about to embark. No one should have to chart and navigate their cancer journey without the wisdom, experience, and networks of those of us who came before them. In your fight against cancer, battle-tested advocates are your best allies. Let our personal and professional experiences inform and empower you on your cancer journey until you can advocate for yourself.

How Long can I use a Cancer Sherpa?

Cancer is a trek and we are here for you for as long- or as short- as you need us. We can jump in at any stage of your journey and are happy to help you through that particular stage through the duration and even after the completion of your treatment.

Does Cancer Sherpa take me to my hospital appointments?

While COVID-19 has prevented Cancer Sherpas from physically attending your appointments and treatments, we can and will be there virtually! We have helped many patients navigate hospital halls, nurses’ stations, and infusion centers virtually. Some patients choose to record their evaluation sessions to share with us afterward.

I was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I am overwhelmed, can you help?

Wait, do you hear that? No? That’s because cancer stops the conversation. We know you still have to go to work, pay bills, take your children in school, literally put food on your table, and the list, well, it never ends. That is where we come in, we are here to help you facilitate every aspect of your life so that your primary focus is on your health and healing. We offer assistance with everything from helping you get a second opinion, to disclosing your illness to your boss and colleagues, to organizing the school carpool, to finding nutritionists and acupuncturists in your area to relieve pain and stress, to arranging for in-home nursing care. You tell us what you need, and we will be the energy, support, and empowerment you need to help you make yourself, and your healing, your top priority.

I live alone, and my family and friends live far away, how can you help?

Never fear, that is why Cancer Sherpa is here. We will guide and support you every step of the way as well as help you expand your local support network.

My child was just diagnosed with cancer, how can you help me with this?

Pediatric cancer was the genesis of Cancer Sherpa. Our founder and CEO, Clare Matschullat, was an adolescent leukemia survivor and has remained a steadfast advocate of children with cancer. We work closely with multiple Children’s Hospitals and pediatric patient organizations to ensure that your child will receive the best possible treatment and long-term healthcare outcomes.

An elderly family member needs live-in cancer care, can you help me with this?

Yes, we can help you locate and evaluate in-home healthcare aides and nursing care possibilities. Cancer Sherpa understands the gravity of inviting healthcare professionals into your, or your loved one’s home, and wants to help you find who and what works best for you and your family.

What is a second opinion and can you help me get one?

The first time you are told you have cancer is known as your primary cancer diagnosis. It may be given by your general internist, an oncologist, or some other specialist you were referred to, and it is critically important to remember that it is the single opinion of one physician based on tests he/she/they ordered and analyzed.

When facing any serious health issue, especially cancer, it is important to explore and exercise all of your rights and options as a patient and be confident that you have received the correct diagnosis. This is best accomplished through seeking a second or multiple opinions from oncologists and surgeons who specialize in your cancer type. In the field of oncology, and at Cancer Sherpa, seeking a second opinion is not only routine but is strongly recommended.

Cancer Sherpa will guide you through getting a second opinion by an oncologist who specializes in your cancer type, and we will facilitate as many opinions as it takes to get a definitive diagnosis(es) and a comprehensive list of treatment options. At Cancer Sherpa, we STRONGLY suggest that every person diagnosed with cancer get a second opinion.

My doctor has presented me with multiple treatment options: what do I want and why?

At Cancer Sherpa, we recognize that cancer may be the great equalizer, but cancer does not affect every patient equally or in the same way. When it comes to cancer, one size does not fit all and we are happy to explain and evaluate all of your treatment options. We are here to help you make the best decisions every step of the way.


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How do I know if I, or my loved one, is getting the best cancer care?

Can you help me with things like nutrition, exercise, and general wellness while I am undergoing treatment?

Yes! We are happy to help you establish or modify your nutritional, exercise, and wellness goals at any and every stage of your journey.

While oncologists have varying opinions on the role nutrition should play in a patient’s treatment, at Cancer Sherpa we believe that nutritional balance at every stage of life is important. That said, our primary goal is to help you find foods that you want to eat and drink while undergoing various types of treatment. We work with nutritionists and wellness coaches who will transform your cupboards and refrigerator into places you will find delicious and nutritious foods that will help your body fight cancer. We will also take note of what comfort food gets you through your worst day, and have that on hand too! Cheeseburgers are what keep our sherpas going!

Cancer Sherpa can also refer you to trainers who are certified to work especially with cancer patients undergoing treatment. We are also happy to work with you and your oncologist to determine what level of activity you should be striving for and find you a trainer or classes that meets your needs.

Please note that all of the professionals we recommend are able to meet with you virtually due to COVID-19, and is often common practice for patients with compromised immunity.

Can you help me find additional treatments and activities that will help me feel better?

We at Cancer Sherpa believe that cancer treatment extends far beyond the pills, infusions, and procedures contained in a particular protocol or trail. Acupuncture, individual and group therapy, modified yoga, meditation, nutrition, good sleep hygiene, and a ton of other treatments, activities, and practices can make your journey infinitely easier. Skeptical, so many of our sherpas, they can be stubborn. Just, as you progress along your journey, keep an open mind about all therapies, many of which existed thousands of year before chemotherapy.

What is covered under my current insurance plan? Do I need more insurance?

Reading-let alone understanding- your insurance policy coverage is a skill that our Cancer Sherpas have honed. However, we sherpas know when to ask for help in navigating complex policy issues, and can refer you to consultants who are fluent in all things insurance. They will assist you in acquiring all of the coverage you need for your treatment and long-term health.

Insurance rejected treatment options, can you help?

We can help you appeal your insurer’s decision, as well as investigate and evaluate other options for financing the treatment(s) of your choice. While we cannot guarantee that you will ultimately receive the treatment that was initially rejected, we will do what we can to fight on your behalf.

Do I need financial advice not only on how to finance my cancer treatment but plan for my time away from work, and my family’s future?

Cancer can make you feel that you need to reevaluate everything, however, it can also help you to focus on what is truly important to you. If you wish to speak to someone about identifying and funding your and your family’s priorities, we will pair you with the best financial advisors.

What do you charge?

Cancer may be the great equalizer, but we recognize that not all cancer patients are able to pay our rates. We believe that each patient deserves to benefit from the collective wisdom, experience, and resources of those of us who came before them. Please contact us, we want to work with you regardless of your ability to pay.

What do we offer?

Cancer Sherpa doesn’t simply offer our listed services, we offer ourselves. You can contact us whenever you need us, as we will be there. Whether you need help determining who is in charge of you in-patient care once your oncologist or surgeon has left the hospital, or you are anxious about beginning a new chemo regime the next day, or you simply had enough of your FREAKING STEROIDS AND JUST NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, we’re here. Like Clare, our Founder and CEO, always says, “Been there. Done that. And, sent a really ugly postcard.” We know how daunting, ugly, and harrowing your journey seems, but we are because we know the way and will lead you through it.

Do we offer more than help with cancer?

Yes, Cancer Sherpa has and is able to help navigate the majority of serious and chronic illnesses. However, if we are not equipped to assist you, we are happy to help you find professionals who can.

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