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Donnie's Medical Fund

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Greetings friends, family, and supporters today I want to share with you a very personal story that impacts me my family and me.  My name is Gail Spence.   Two years ago my younger brother, Donnie, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and he has been fighting this disease ever since.   Cancer is an impactful disease not only to the patient, but to all of those involved in the battle.  My family and I have spent our limited resources to do what we can and still the fight continues. We have provided support to help pay Donnie’s health insurance premiums which increased from $400 to $700 a month in January 2017, medicine, lab work and Dr. appointments co-payments, living expenses, and a special food diet.  

I recently read a report that said that one and three Americans will develop cancer in their life time. It shocks me to think that so many others are going through this or will have to go through what our family is going through.  Hopefully with time, research, and support there will be cure for cancer and many other life threatening diseases or at least enough effective and affordable treatments that it can be treated as a non-life threatening chronic disease. In the meantime, for my family, it continues to be a life and death battle.  I am sure many of you understand what it is like.  For Donnie, living with Cancer is like a constant dark cloud lurking close by.  My brother is a fighter and he is optimistic, but as you can imagine, some days are a struggle to stay positive. As his older sister, I hear many of his thoughts, his feelings, and especially his fears that no one should have to listen to from someone they love very much.   

Recently the cancer cells in Donnie’s body have mutated and are growing again.  However, his doctor, a world renowned lung cancer researcher has identified an appropriate regiment that includes a recently released and FDA approved targeted treatment (Tagrisso) that has shown great potential and positive results in treating the current mutation of his cells. Targeted treatments are the newest technology in treating some specific types of cancer, but the cost is incredible, often costing tens of thousands of dollars for required biopsies and body scans and $10,000 to $12,000 dollars per month for medications. Donnie’s doctor has put him on a treatment plan that may last two years.  Fortunately, Donnie was able to get help with a 30 day supply of medication with support from his Doctor.   Funds are needed now to buy more medication monthly and pay for the required tests to keep him on the treatment plan.


 Many  insurance companies, like my brother’s,  do not cover these biopsies, body scans or alternative or newly FDA approved medications and will not pay for these procedures deemed necessary by the treating physician and their medical team.  My brother is currently appealing his insurance denial to cover this new treatment but so far he hasn’t been successful.  In the meantime we are looking at monthly medical expenditures of more than $13,000 per month a substantial expense for anyone, and simply unachievable for most of us, especially when it excludes the cost of living to medical treatment.

Managing cancer is a full time job.   It requires a great deal of rest, a stress free environment, and nutritional support.  To say the least, in my brother’s case, he still needs to generate income to meet his living and medical obligations.   Donnie is a loving brother, uncle, and son. He is also a small business owner.  He loves dogs and has been a community volunteer for various good causes where he lives.  He is confronting a very challenging disease but he is not alone. His friends and family members have been a god send in helping him find an excellent doctor, medical team, and treatment facility as well as contributing generously to covering some of the cost of his lab work, test and treatments in the last two years. Donnie has also been very resourceful in identifying local support where he lives to help with some of his medical expenses.  He has also worked hard in reducing his living expenses to the bare minimum to help increase his funds available for medical care.   Our family humbly ask you for your support and prayers in dealing with his health crisis.   We are fortunate that better and more effective treatments are being developed every year. So we are very hopeful and positive.  However, the cost of these new treatments for my brother and our family is extremely expensive and unaffordable.  This is why we need your support.

 Although his doctor has asked him to get plenty of rest and exercise, because he runs a small business, his primary and only source of income, his business requires a lot of his time and effort to prepare his product, engage his current and potential clients, work with his small staff, and seek investors. He has not always been able to balance both of these responsibilities fully.

Running a business and constantly trying to pay living, business, and increasing medical bills are taking a toll on Donnie in many aspects of his life, and often he is left to make very difficult decisions, which often have consequences and especially an impact on his mental and physical energy that he needs to get better.   Unfortunately, without adequate resources and support it is not possible for him to focus more of his time on getting better.  Funds raised will help ensure he will continue to get the medical treatment that he needs to beat his cancer, more time to focus on resting and exercising as well as piece of mind knowing he doesn’t have to worry about how he is going cover his huge medical expenses which have seriously affected his quality of life too.

I apologize for my structure in this post, I have never done this before.  We know that we are not the only family that is facing a catastrophic health crisis and the financial burden that often accompany this kind of hardship.  I am sure that many of those who receive this post are in like circumstance.  My family is making every effort to provide as much assistance and support as we possibly can with great sacrifices made by all.  My son Jonathan just graduated from college last month is looking forward to contributing with proceeds from his new job.  My mother, a retired teacher living on a fixed small income is also tightening her belt and looking at ways to do local fund raising to help Donnie.  I have already borrowed against my pension to help Donnie.   This simply isn’t easy, we wish there was a better way, but I am sure that many of you will understand. The honest truth is that to help Donnie overcome one of the greatest if not the greatest challenge of his life we can’t do it alone.

Time to act is urgent. Donnie is running out of his 30 day supply of medication and he needs a procedure called a Bronchoscopy that will allow his doctor to see how well his new medication is working. The procedure is very expensive more than $20,000 and his insurance company will not cover it.

 It is with our collective gratitude we must ask for your support.  Donations provided will go to help cover the cost of Donnie’s monthly treatment, tests and scans, and other medical expenses not covered by his health insurance, and to a lesser extent if there is anything left over living expenses.  We will provide regular updates on his progress and journey.  If you need more information to decide to donate or want to know other ways you can help with his business so he can focus more on his health and treatment please contact Donnie or me so we can answer your questions. Please keep us in your prayers and we will keep you in ours, and let me say in advance thank you for being a part of the journey and our lives. Countless Blessings to each and every one of you!


  • Amanda Kim
    • $200 
    • 6 yrs


Gail Spence
Rockville, MD

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