DURING HIS CAREER DOING humanitarian work in the Middle East and central Asia, Len Rodgers has been no stranger to adversity. In 1967, he and his family were evacuated from Lebanon during the Six-Day War. “I’ve seen just about every Middle East war since,” Rodgers says. But in 2003, he faced his biggest battle yet.
While in Kyrgyzstan, Rodgers began to feel weak and lethargic, and when he returned to the United States, he sought help at Mayo Clinic’s campus near his home in Arizona. The diagnosis: multiple myeloma. His doctors asked him to consider entering a series of clinical trials, and he agreed.
The doctors harvested stem cells from his bone marrow, then administered a regimen of chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells in his bones. His own stem cells were then reintroduced in a procedure known as an autologous transplant. To keep the cancer from returning, Rodgers received five investigative oral chemotherapies. They were all effective.
There was no charge for the trial medication, but once Rodgers was prescribed drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the sticker shock was intense. “The Pomalyst (pomalidomide) I was put on costs $13,000 a month,” he says. “A few calculations told me that, even with Medicare, the outof- pocket expenses would have bankrupted my wife and me.”
Fortunately, a clinic nurse directed him to Good Days, known at the time as the Chronic Disease Fund. After evaluation, he was accepted into an assistance program.
“I find it hard to put into words how grateful I am for their help,” says Rodgers, who turned 80 in November. “A lot of people my age are long retired. But I love the work I do, and I know how much it’s needed. Thanks to Good Days, I can continue to do it.”