Mission Possible: Alleviating Burden of Cancer Care for Patients in Need

By Kimberly Liebowitz

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the entire family suffers, both emotionally and financially. That’s where we can help. At The Cancer Foundation, a local nonprofit, our mission is to help alleviate the financial burden of cancer care for patients in need.

Since the Foundation was established by the physicians of University Cancer & Blood Center in 2005, more than $906,000 in financial assistance has been provided to 2,000 eligible cancer patients in Northeast Georgia.

Our Financial Assistance Program alleviates cancer patients’ immediate financial burdens and the debilitating stress that stems from their diagnosis. As a 501(c3) nonprofit, we provide patients up to $500 in annual emergency assistance for basic life needs like transportation, housing, utilities, food and medications. Our vision is to eradicate financial hardship for those in our community who are diagnosed with cancer.

Examples of expenses eligible for financial assistance include utility bills, rent or mortgage payments, insurance premiums (including COBRA), health insurance co-payments, nutritional assistance, medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs, and prescription and transportation costs.

The Foundation serves 18 Northeast Georgia counties, including Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Putnam, Stephens, Taliaferro, Wilkes and Walton.

Eligibility requirements for applicants include living in one of the service area counties, a minimum age of 18 years, a certified cancer diagnosis, being in active treatment or within a six month period of cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or cancer related surgery, or admitted to hospice services, and proof of income less than or equal to 250 percent of the 2016 Federal Poverty Limits for each person in the household over 18 years of age.

The application process includes a review by the Foundation’s staff for completeness and eligibility. If the patient is approved for assistance, the referring professional is notified by phone or email regarding the amount of assistance. Financial assistance checks are made directly to the creditor owed.

The Foundation receives many donations made in memory of, or in honor of, loved ones or friends, and also notifies family members of gifts made in honorarium. It does not disclose the amount of gifts made.

Special events are also an important source of income for the Foundation.

The Cancer Foundation’s “Tri to Beat Cancer Sprint Triathlon” is an annual fundraiser that brought in more than $101,000 in 2015 for the Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program.

This year, the Triathlon will be held Sunday, August 21 at Sandy Creek Park in Athens. The sprint triathlon begins at 7a.m. and features a 400-meter swim, 14-mile bike, and 5K run.

“Cocktails: A Season of Spice & Ice” is another important fundraiser for the Foundation, which raised $140,000 this year.

The Alliance for Aging Research estimates that 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the United States are expected to be diagnosed this year alone, and 78 percent of those cases will be in Americans age 55 and older. Many of these patients will be in need of financial assistance, and support from organizations such as The Cancer Foundation will remain a source of support for those in need.

To make a donation, or to register or participate in the Tri to Beat Cancer Triathlon, go to www.cfnega.org.

 

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Kimberly Liebowitz as the Executive Director of The Cancer Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance to cancer patients living in the Athens area. Kimberly has worked at the foundation for eight years. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia, with a master’s level certification in nonprofit management.

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