At a recent breast cancer retreat, one of the “house moms” asked those of us at the dinner table, “What helped you the most?” One woman described how prayer in the morning helped her get through each day, and so on. By the time it was my turn to answer I was feeling incredibly shallow. My answer? “Money.” (Though flowers are a close second.)
Getting breast cancer meant that I took an incredible financial hit, in lost income and increased expenses. So how did I get through? Well, in part, through grants.
Because last year I earned less than 4 times the federal poverty level (not unusual for women in nonprofits BTW), I qualified for several sources of aid:
- the CoPay Relief fund of the Patient Advocate Foundation ($2K);
- the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund ($575);
- the Healthwell Foundation ($3K);
- Cancercare ($450);
- and the Parr Family Fund at Providence ($450).
- I also was awarded $7500 by the Patient Access Network but was unable to access it because it’s for chemo drug coinsurance only, and after I hit my insurance cap those were all paid for.
So for any one in similar shoes, there is help out there. Here’s how it worked in my life:
- Cancercare sent me checks outright.
- Brenda Mehling sent a check to my landlord.
- CoPay Relief covered copays and coinsurance related to chemo only; they sent me reimbursement checks and paid my oncologist directly. They also continue to pay my pharmacy for each prescription, which is a huge relief. (Who knows if I’ll use up the whole $2K before the award-year is out, but I might).
- Healthwell covers insurance premiums.
- Providence gave me gas vouchers and Fred Meyer gift cards.
- I also rec’d a $20 check as a rebate for an anti-nausea medicine (Kytril), as well as
- significant support from family, friends and various community members.
To everyone and every organization that helped, my undying (hopefully, right?) gratitude. You made a huge difference in my life. With every grant/gift envelope that I opened my body visibly relaxed, and my stress eased. Thank you.
And the 10 bouquets of flowers over the course of chemo were wonderful – they brightened my home, and my life, considerably. You know who are, and I thank you with all my heart.