David has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma), with a collateral malignant infection in his liver. Testing has confirmed it’s a stage 4 malignancy. However, as a relatively young man, 49 years old, and in good health otherwise, he is well positioned to fight this scary cancer diagnosis.
Needless to say, his wife and children, Robin (his mom), Mary Anne (his sister) and I, are devastated over this news, as are other relatives and his many friends. It is not what Robin and I ever expected to hear in our retirement years. At 78 and 73, respectively, we accept our mortality as inevitable ... but for us, not for our first born.
David and his family - Samantha his wife of 22 years, Jonathan his 14 year old son, and Steven his 11 year old son - live in Savannah, Georgia. He taught sequential art at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for 16 years, and before that at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. In 2014, David’s teaching contract at SCAD was not renewed due to a change in curriculum emphasis. He took this as an opportunity to do what he had always wanted to do - focus on his artistic talent and become a freelance artist.
The family worked hard to create a modest but successful business, selling his art in several galleries up and down the east coast. They were very happy as he created original works of art that customers appreciated and bought. They struggled to make the business financially viable through the years (the term struggling artist is a true one!). This year, however, their financial condition was looking brighter as revenues increased. But expectations for better years ahead never anticipated the major costs associated with cancer treatments, or the prospect of reduced original output should treatments be ineffective.
David went to his family doctor in Savannah when he began experiencing trouble swallowing. It was during their examination that a suspicious growth was discovered on the lower segment of his esophagus, where it joins the stomach. They were concerned and wanted David to see a specialist who could better diagnose his problems. Their recommendation was a hospital in Charleston, SC, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the Hollings Cancer Center.
MUSC is highly rated in the medical community and their medical staff was recognized as one of the best in the southeast. David scheduled an appointment for further testing and treatment for the following week - April 11-13. He and Samantha made the trip to Charleston, meeting Mary Anne there, and underwent numerous tests. They confirmed the fears of doctors in Savannah that the growth on David’s esophagus was indeed malignant and that the cancerous growth had spread to several spots on his liver. It was rated as stage 4 in severity. They recommended chemotherapy be started immediately, and it was scheduled for the following week (April 18-20).
Amazingly, David came through the first round of chemotherapy with very little ill effects (some tiredness). The doctor’s were encouraged with his general health and his ability to withstand treatments thus far. The decision was made to skip a week or two and to schedule a second round of chemotherapy for the week of April 30 or May 7.
And then the bad news: the high cost of treatment and the insufficiency of David’s insurance coverage. They were advised that treatments thus far at MUSC amounted to approximately $53,000 (in 10 days!), and that their insurance offered little-to-no coverage. It was clearly a policy that a struggling family could afford, but woefully deficient for any catastrophic medical encounter such as that being experienced by David – it wouldn’t cover any of the MUSC bill. In fact, the financial people at MUSC let David and Samantha know that their insurance had basically been a scam - and sadly a scam that MUSC sees fairly often (families who pay more into their insurance than their insurance would ever pay out). It’s infuriating and so sad and now David and Samantha are uncertain how they will ever be able to pay off that $53,000 debt - with more to surely come.
So the search began for insurance that would provide David and his family with real coverage for the anticipated medical costs ahead. And he now needed insurance that accepted David’s pre-existing condition. Fortunately, Obamacare insurance offered such policies, but they needed to become qualified for special enrollment since they were outside the open enrollment period. Once that was accomplished, they were accepted for a plan that much better met their needs. The new policy is real insurance - and will cover their expenses, minus their deductible and maximum out of pocket expense cap (hallelujah!), however the new policy does not cover any out-of-state medical care. Thus, the treatment and care they were getting at MUSC in South Carolina could no longer continue. They needed to transfer all care and treatment back to Georgia.
They have now transferred David’s treatment back to Savannah for the next round of chemotherapy at a Savannah treatment center on May 7-9, and he will continue his care there. If he does not see the desired improvement to his condition, or if medical trials or other services are warranted, he will travel to to other locations, perhaps outside Georgia, and find alternate sources of funding to offset the costs involved.
We have set up this GoFundMe page as a way for David’s many friends and relatives to help him defray some of his mounting medical expenses as he fights this malignancy. His mom and I, and David’s entire family, sincerely appreciate your consideration in this regard. We also wanted to use this forum to keep you all informed on how his fight for a healthy outcome is going – we genuinely believe this struggle will culminate in this becoming a true success story.
*100% of all donations will go into a bank account for David, to be used exclusively for David's medical expenses.