Patient Assistance Fund Helps Remove Barriers for Patients Receiving Treatment at ARH Cancer Center
Diagnosed with colorectal and prostate cancer and facing five weeks of daily radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Claude Huff of Harlan County knew he had a battle ahead of him to beat the disease, but it wasn’t only the cancer that had Huff worried.
Living on a fixed income and relying on only Medicare to pay for his treatment, Huff says it was the piling medical bills, sky rocketing gas prices and the thought of a 120-mile round trip to the ARH Cancer Center in Hazard each day that left him with such a sense of uncertainty that he feared he wouldn’t be able to afford to get treatment at all.
Huff, however, was soon able to put his mind to rest and focus only on getting well thanks to a patient assistance fund established at the ARH Cancer Center that helps provide transportation assistance and overnight accommodations for out of town patients who may need to have multiple days of treatment in a row or are too ill to travel back home following treatment.
Established last year, the ARH Cancer Center staff has raised funds through small fundraisers such selling Old Kentucky Chocolates candy bars and also has a Denim and Diamonds fundraising event planned for this summer. To date, the bulk of the funds have been raised from donations and the receipt of two grants - $5,000 from The Lexington Cancer Foundation and a $6,000 grant from the American Cancer Society Mid-South Division.
Through the Patient Assistance Fund, the Cancer Center was able to supply Claude with gas cards for all the pre-treatment visits and his first few radiation treatments. Staff also has secured LKLP Community Action Council transportation for a couple of weeks. LKLP will pick him up daily at his home and drive him to Hazard for his treatment, free of cost. The fund will also help pay for Claude to stay in a nearby hotel during the week while receiving his chemo and radiation treatments.
Ashley Teague, patient navigator at the ARH Cancer Center, says the fund was born out of patient needs just like those faced by Claude.
Since opening as a dedicated cancer center in 2007, the ARH Cancer Center has become a regional option for cancer treatment for patients in Eastern Kentucky. Although the existence of this center has alleviated some of the transportation burden on patients, since now most patients do not have to travel out of the region for care, there still exists a large need for transportation assistance. Over half of the center’s patients each year need assistance with transportation.
Claude’s oncologist, Nicola Jabbour, MD, says Claude has a long road ahead to recovery and the assistance from the fund will enable him to get the treatment he needs prior to undergoing surgery.
“When a patient is ill and going through treatment, it is important that they can stay positive and not have to worry about anything other than getting well,” Dr. Jabbour says. “This fund is a great asset that is provided to the patients at the ARH Cancer Center who need it and we are happy to be able offer them a sense of peace while they are focusing on their treatment.”
Teague says her ultimate hope is to see that every patient is able to get every treatment necessary to beat cancer.
“If money, transportation, or insurance stand in the way, I want to be able to say to the patient, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ve got you covered,’” she says. “I want the fund to be a stress-reliever for patients that need to keep their minds focused on overcoming cancer. Right now my hope is for the fund to grow monetarily so that we can get to that point. That way if someone is diagnosed with cancer and are just putting off seeking treatment, they will know that if they come to the ARH Cancer Center we will be able to help them.”
While Claude says the assistance provided to him was a significant stress-reliever, it took only a few words to sum up his gratitude to the cancer center staff, “I couldn’t have done it without you all! This is great!”
For more information or to donate to the ARH Patient Assistance Fund contact Ashley Teague at 606- 439-6843.