Personal Stories, Dollars Making A Difference
By: Sally Hendrickson
Komen Breast Care Helpline Caller
Learning that you or a loved one is facing breast cancer can be shocking. You may want information about breast health or breast cancer, or just someone to talk to. Maybe you’re just not sure where to start, or you’re scared. No matter who you are, where you are, or what questions you have, the Komen Breast Care Helpline is here to help. Just call 1 877 GO KOMEN (or 1-877-465-6636) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with our trained and compassionate oncology social workers. And a big “Thank You!” to Eli Lilly for funding the Helpline and making sure it will always be there for those who need it.
Below is a blog from Sally Hendrickson. Her personal perspective helps demonstrate the impact the Helpline is making in the lives of people every day.
Nearly 5 years ago I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer. I was shocked because I was always diligent about doing what I was supposed to do. I took care of myself and got my mammogram each year. They discovered that there were 7 lymph nodes involved, but I was a beginner at learning about breast cancer and had no idea that this was so significant. I was 65 when I had my surgery and was in the midst of planning my wedding.
Last January (2017), I was feeling pain in my hip for quite some time. I told my doctor about it, who performed a scan on me and discovered that the cancer was back. I found out that my cancer had metastasized and had spread to my pelvic bones.
After finding out that I had metastatic breast cancer was in complete shock. I was overwhelmed and immediately became worried about finances. My doctor had prescribed a drug would cost beyond what my budget could support. My co-pay would put my out of pockets at $3,200 a month. I panicked. I knew that I only had the funds to allow me to take the drug for 2 to 3 months.
Feeling like I had nowhere else to turn, I called my daughter for help. She recommended I call the Susan G. Komen Breast Care Helpline. They were so supportive and helped me navigate what I needed to do and who I needed to speak with to get me started down this road. The first thing they did was refer me to the Komen Las Vegas Affiliate. But, instead of passing me off and saying, “Go call this number,” they were very empathetic and actually asked me “how can I help you; what can I do for you?” They didn’t need to help me, they wanted to help me.
The Las Vegas Komen Affiliate walked me through the proper paperwork and connected me directly with the drug provider, with whom I was able to fill out a variety of forms and applications. I was ultimately able to get the drug that I needed with just a $10 co-pay per month. After I completed treatment with that drug, I ran in to the same problem with my next prescription. Once again, I called the Komen Breast Care Helpline, who connected me with the drug company, who provided me with the drug that I needed to treat my disease at a cost that I could afford.
I’ve participated in Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events in the past and feel like everyone knows who Komen is, but I don’t think they know everything that they do – for instance, that they are offering this resource for people who are battling breast cancer today and need help NOW. It’s there for those of us who feel like we have nowhere else to turn.
During my journey, I joined a group at the cancer clinic and really didn’t enjoy it. It was depressing and not uplifting at all. When I called the Helpline, the people on the other end of the phone were so supportive and made me feel less defeated at a time when I was feeling really down. They did ask a bit about my diagnosis, but I didn’t feel like they were prying. They heard me talk, understood what I needed and said “okay, here’s where we should start.”
My physician never informed me about this resource when I needed it, so I was sure to educate him on the fact that it was there and his patients would greatly benefit from it. He now spreads the word! I’m also sure to spread news of the Helpline with everyone I know receiving treatment. When you’re going through radiation, you see the same group of people over a 16-week period and we have plenty of time to share stories about resources and what we’ve found helpful along the way.
I was also so excited when I heard a follow-up from the Komen Vegas Affiliate. They sent me a gift package and made sure I had received the support that I needed. I could really tell that the folks working at the Helpline and the Komen Las Vegas Affiliate were really paying attention to me personally and that has made such a big difference in my life.
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