March 26, 2007
Melanie N. Cross
"Cancer isn't my biggest problem," said one Tulane Cancer Center patient to describe his situation following Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, Tulane Cancer Center's needy patients have gotten a helping hand.
The National Cancer Coalition recently donated $20,000 to the center's Patient Relief Fund to provide needy patients with financial assistance for everything from transportation, meals and short-term housing to insurance co-payments, prescription medications, laboratory tests, rental assistance and other needs.
Since the storm, many cancer patients, like everyone else, have been dealing with the loss of their homes, the scattering of their family members, insurance claims, the Road Home and FEMA, in addition to clinic visits, treatment schedules, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It can be overwhelming.
Tulane Cancer Center's Patient Relief Fund was established in 1998 to help needy patients meet unexpected expenses associated with their care at Tulane.
Overseen by Timothy Pearman, director of Tulane Cancer Center's Patricia Trost Friedler Cancer Counseling Center, and patient navigator Robert Gardner, it is often the only source available to solve an urgent problem for cancer patients.
Over the years, this fund has granted $22,257 in assistance. "Our needy patients are still struggling, 18 months after Hurricane Katrina," says Roy S. Weiner, director of the Tulane Cancer Center.
"Many of them are burdened by enormous problems, but they often have very limited means. That's why the coalition's gift is having such a powerful impact. Through their generosity, we can eliminate some of the barriers that impede a patient's ability to receive the cancer care they need. In the desperate situations our patients face, a helping hand provides way more than financial assistance; it provides hope."
This is the second post-Katrina gift the National Cancer Coalition has provided the Tulane Cancer Center. The coalition donated $5,000 in patient relief in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Established in 1993, the National Cancer Coalition is a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in New Orleans that supports cancer research and undertakes educational, prevention and medical relief programs throughout the world.
"With the excessive destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast, many cancer patients were completely uprooted from their physicians and centers for chemotherapy or radiation," says Robert B. Landry III, president and chief executive officer of the coalition.
"Quite a number of them lost everything due to the hurricanes. They became much more vulnerable in their battle against cancer, and their chances for survival could depend on financial assistance that we can provide."
The Tulane Cancer Center Comprehensive Clinic in downtown New Orleans has been renovated and is fully operational after flooding in the aftermath of the storm, Weiner says.
Melanie Cross is marketing coordinator for the Tulane Cancer Center.
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