Veteran with Rare Cancer

PLEASE HELP AN ARMY VET KICK CANCER!

Sam is a proud Army veteran who has cancer and hasn’t been able to get the VA to work with him to get him to the hospital for radiation treatment. He needs daily radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks. If he doesn’t start treatment in the next week or so (early October), the VA said they won’t be able to treat him at all, and they’ll just basically send him home to die.

We need your help to fund his transportation to and from the hospital for six weeks! Our plan is to buy him Uber gift cards and a basic smart phone so he can use the Uber app to arrange transportation to and from the hospital every day. Our goal is $3700, which should pay for 30 round trips (at $100 per round trip), along with a 20% contingency to cover trips that take longer due to traffic (the route has awful traffic!), plus $100 for a basic smart phone.

If you're ready to help out, thank you! If you want more information about how he got to this point, please read on...

THE PROBLEM

To receive necessary and VA-approved treatment, Sam has to travel to a specialty VA Hospital in the suburbs many miles from his home in the city. Sam doesn't own a car. While public transportation is technicallly "available" to the hospital, he would need to travel for several hours each way on multiple trains and buses, and then walk 1.5 miles each way to the hospital and back to the train station after treatment. Keep in mind, the treatments he requires must be administered five days a week for six consecutive weeks while he maintains his regular job. Even if he could logistically make public transit work, once his treatment starts, he won’t be able to walk three blocks, let alone three miles a day.

The VA won't provide transportation because his income exceeds $5,000 per year, the VA’s income threshold to have transportation provided. He's self employed, so he doesn't have the safety net of company-provided insurance.

He has tried to get the VA to authorize treatment at a non-VA hospital just blocks from his home, but they refused, because he technically lives within the 40-mile zone of the VA specialty facility.

We (his friends) live hundreds of miles away, so we can’t be there to drive him to and from the hospital. He can't come stay with us and get care at the VA hospital here, because the VA says he must get care where his official residence is. He doesn't have any family in the area either.

He's explored getting transportation help from the American Cancer Society, the National Veterans Foundation, Veterans of America, Disabled Veterans of America, the local area public paratransit and a number of other patient advocate organizations. He hasn't been able to get transportation help from any of these organizations.

He’s even reached out to his Senator’s office, and, while they’ve been very responsive and really worked hard to make something happen for him, they haven’t made any headway with the VA either.

This process has gone on for 5 ½ months. He is running out of time!

THE MEDICAL DETAILS...

He was diagnosed with a mass in mid-April 2017 and told he needed surgery. He kept getting bumped from the VA surgery schedule until he finally had surgery to remove the mass six weeks later, at the end of May. It took 5 MORE weeks for the VA to tell him whether or not it was cancer (it is—a relatively rare and aggressively growing cancer). At that time, they told him he needed radiation therapy but couldn’t get it at his regular VA hospital. He had to get it at the specialty VA hospital outside the city.

After the surgery in May and the determination at the end of June that he did, in fact, have cancer, he was told that the odds were 80% that the radiation would get the cancer and he would be in remission. At the beginning of August, after so many weeks of delay, he was told the odds of successful treatment were 50-50. By the beginning of September, he was told that he only had at most five weeks in order to start treatment. If treatment wasn't started prior to the five-week deadline, they would not treat him at all. In fact, they would just send him home to die.

Time is of the essence. He is out of options for getting treatment, and we hope that your generosity can help fund his transportation and save his life.
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Organizer

Marcelline Babicz 
Organizer
Bethesda, MD
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