Help Deron Cloud Beat Cancer
Little did Deron Cloud know 10 years ago that he’d join the more than 60% of privately insured Americans with medical bills so high that they have to exhaust all of their savings to pay them...but that's still not enough!!! This fact was recently explored in an article in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/upshot/health-insurance-severely-ill-financial-toxicity-.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage.
Who is Deron? He is a pastor, devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and community activist (please watch the video for more details of his service to the community). While helping thousands, Deron has been fighting for his life. Here's the story of his battle...
How It All Started
In 2008, Deron suffered from an aortic aneurysm that almost took his life. He had a miraculous recovery and returned to full function with routine follow-up CT scans to make sure his surgically repaired aneurysm had remained stable. On one of these scans in 2015, an incidental finding was made. He had a concerning spot in one of his lungs that ultimately was diagnosed as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is one of the few types of lung cancer that is not caused by smoking (see here for more information https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about.html). The great news: the diagnosis was made really early, even before he developed any symptoms. After undergoing more testing, it was determined to be Stage I (still only in his lungs with no spread to any other places in his body). A successful treatment plan was developed, and the cancer was now in remission.
From Stage I to Stage IV
Two years after going into remission, Deron received some bad news. On routine follow-up radiographic imaging studies, Deron was found to have a concerning spot in his lung that had grown since his prior study but was too small to biopsy. He was advised to wait 3-4 months and have another study to monitor the spot on his lung. However, before that time came, he developed what he thought were migraine headaches. He was seen by a neurologist and extensively tested but the headaches continued to get worse. On 7/26/17 while preparing to do the 10th anniversary of his "She's Fabulously 40 & Over" production, at the advice of a fellow pastor, he went to see his ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist referred him to a neuro-ophthalmologist and he worked all day to get an appointment with one of the top neuro-ophthalmologists in the country the next day. The doctor took one look into his eyes (considered the window to what is going on in the brain) and advised him to go back to the Emergency Department to have more testing done, including a spinal tap (a test where fluid is taken from your spinal canal to check for different diseases).
On 7/31/2017, the day before his 51st birthday, Deron received preliminary results of the spinal tap. His lung cancer was now metastatic because it had spread from the lungs to another organ or body part. In his case, the cancer had spread to the spinal fluid and the cells along the lining of his brain and changed his classification from Stage I cancer to Stage IV. At this point, he was told he could only have a year to live (or less). The silver lining in all this pre-birthday news was the fact that through genetic testing done during his original cancer diagnosis evaluation, he was known to have an EGFR mutation, a feature of the cancer found in less than 15% of patients with NSCLC. This made him an excellent candidate for a targeted therapy called Tarceva (see more information about Tarceva here: http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/Tarceva.aspx). Even better was the fact that he'd already gone through a lengthy approval process to get his insurance company to pay for the medicine when his EGFR mutation was detected. He was able to start taking Tarceva immediately and was discharged on 8/4/17. He was in the next phase of his journey to beat cancer. Although he was severely fatigued and still suffering from severe headaches, this dedicated SOLDIER managed to preach the 8:00 AM service on 8/6/2017!!
Time for a New Medication
For a time, things went seemingly well on Tarceva. Within 6 weeks, he was already starting to show signs of improvement on his imaging studies. While Tarceva initially slowed the progression of his disease (i.e., kept his lung tumor from getting bigger and his brain disease from worsening), he developed debilitating side effects and his radiographic improvement began to become questionable at best. His medical team then began the process to get his insurance company to approve coverage of Tagrisso, a medicine approved for cancer treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2017 then upgraded to the 1st line treatment for EGFR-mutated NSCLC in April 2018 ( https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/press-releases/2018/us-fda-approves-tagrisso-as-1st-line-treatment-for-EGFR-mutated-non-small-cell-lung-cancer.html). It was approved but came with a $15,000.00 per month copay for a 30-day supply. He, like most of you reading this, was of course unable to afford this and applied for a patient assistance program to help pay for it. After initially being denied and having to show excessive medical debt during a lengthy appeal process, Deron found out on 5/8/18 that he was approved for the program. By the grace of God, he could now start the life-saving treatment!
Almost immediately, his clinical status improved. His strength returned such that he no longer needed assistance walking to and from the pulpit to preach. What's more, he began to show what was thought to be radiographic improvement on an MRI done just prior to starting Tagrisso. On 8/8/18, he went for routine follow-up imaging. This time, his doctors did a CT scan with contrast which revealed a slight increase in his cancer activity which they couldn't say with certainty wasn't there 3 months prior. Since it was a different type of test it was like comparing apples to oranges. Despite how well he still looked clinically, due to the aggressive nature of Stage IV NSCLC, his doctors recommended increasing the dose of Tagrisso to combat any possible progression of the disease.
How Can You Help?
The last 3 years have been an emotionally and financially taxing experience. God's Love has been expressed through many acts of kindness and has carried Deron and his family through. Deron must undergo extensive and expensive medical testing every 3 months and at any point could be denied assistance paying the $15,000 monthly copay. He needs help raising enough to pay off his current medical bills and cover the copay for at least one month. Having to seek financial support in this way, and vulnerably share this process in such a public fashion is a truly humbling experience. We are standing in faith believing that there are people Deron has blessed across the nation and globe over the last 25+ years of ministry who are willing to provide a financial blessing during this time of great need. Whether you can give $10, $10,000 or more toward the goal of being able to support the mounting medical expenses and complex medical treatments he is undergoing, no amount is too small! In addition to making a voluntary donation, we also need your prayers for another display of God's healing power for Deron. If Deron, or this story, has touched your heart in any way, please donate any amount you can, and we'll pray that God blesses you for your generosity. We'll let you know how things go with his next round of tests and our search for other programs to assist cancer patients. If you happen to know of any resources we should try, please include that in your comments. Thanks, in advance, for your support!