Patients With Cancer Turn to an Unconventional Way to Fund Cancer Care

CURE, CURE® Summer 2022,

I am always astonished to see the sky-high prices of cancer treatment. For many Americans, receiving a cancer diagnosis comes with the daunting question of “How can I afford this?”

Some patients may ultimately consider forgoing treatment altogether knowing that without proper insurance and adequate savings, they and their families may accumulate crippling debt.

Let’s face it: Many patients can’t afford cancer care. In 2018, according to data from the American Cancer Society, patients with cancer in the United States paid more than $5 billion in out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatments.

That same American Cancer Society report indicates that certain individuals with cancer are more likely to be affected by financial hardships. People who are under the age of 55, are of color, have obtained less than a high school degree and are considered to live in a low- to middle-income household are most likely to struggle under the weight of cancer costs.

As these costs have become unmanageable, many patients have turned to an unconventional method to raise funds for their treatments: crowdfunding through strangers.

In this issue of CURE®, we detail the lengths to which some patients go to ensure they can afford their care by seeking help from people they don’t even know. Crowdfunding, which was once traditionally used by startup businesses seeking to raise money to grow their capabilities, is now being used by people to seek help from the outside world to fund their medical care.

“The fact that people have to go this route tells me we’re not doing as good a job as we could be — it really puts an asterisk on our current health care system,” an expert from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore said in an interview for our cover story.

And it’s true, as evidenced by the patient stories in this issue, that many patients in these situations find themselves facing the toughest challenge of their lives: going through cancer treatment while worrying about the financial burden of their disease.

“I just felt so overwhelmed and I broke down in my living room. I remember thinking, ‘I can’t do this alone. I’m going to need help,’” said a patient who received a diagnosis of endometrial cancer and eventually shared her story on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.

The problem that many patients face with crowdfunding, however, is that they feel embarrassed being unable to pay for their care.

“I hate asking for money,” one caregiver said. “It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t even ask my parents for money, let alone friends or strangers.”

But ultimately, they all said the decision to turn to crowdfunding was neces- sary to ensure they received appropriate care.

As always, we hope you find our stories inspirational and informative. Thank you for reading.

MIKE HENNESSY JR.

President & CEO

MJH LIFE SCIENCES®

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