World Cancer Day is February 4. The day acknowledges the heartache and triumph of cancer survivors across the globe, and its slogan close the care gap aims to diminish the inequalities of patient care across the world. This campaign specifically highlights the differences in prognoses and treatments across one’s county, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, and it places pressure on governments to eliminate such discrepancies.

In the United States, affording healthcare without accruing debt can be unattainable for many Americans. A study conducted by researchers for the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined the financial factors associated with cancer care in the U.S. This study reported that cancer patients have the most expensive treatment, and costs may continue after remission. Sadly, the report suggested that the financial burden of healthcare may prevent some Americans from experiencing the full scope of treatment – regardless of the type of insurance they have.

Another report conducted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network found that 73% of cancer patients were worried about the costs associated with treatment, with 51% of patients accruing debt because of treatment, and 45% of patients in serious need of care deferred treatment due to their existing medical debt. The report highlighted those most vulnerable to medical debt are women, low-income households, individuals with less than college-level education, and African Americans. Even those with insurance and government aid still reportedly struggle with expenses

Families are often forced to make difficult decisions to care for their loved ones with cancer, often altering their daily lives to afford treatment costs. For those pursuing a lawsuit related to their cancer, their financial situation can be dire. At The Milestone Foundation, our low-interest pre-settlement funding has helped some families get by as they face treatment, litigation, and mounting bills.

On this World Cancer Day, we are sharing the real stories of some of the cancer survivors The Milestone Foundation funded.

During a routine mammogram, Edna’s* doctor failed to notify her of a mass on her breast. He did not take her complaints seriously, and within one year, the mass doubled in size. If her concerns had been addressed earlier, Edna would’ve only had to experience a minor tumor removal and radiation. However, since her doctor ignored her, Edna had to undergo chemotherapy treatments and a double mastectomy. As Edna recovered, her mortgage and utility payments fell behind. Her legal team encouraged her to contact The Milestone Foundation, and we helped Edna catch up on her payments.

While continuing with her Roundup lawsuit, Beatrice* struggled to make ends meet. Although she worked part-time to afford treatment for her heart and liver cancer, she was still at risk of having her car repossessed. If she lost her car, then her job would be in danger, and so would her ability to receive cancer care. Juggling work, chemotherapy, and a lawsuit, Beatrice became overwhelmed by the thought of losing her only form of reliable transportation. So, she reached out to her attorney for guidance. She was connected to The Milestone Foundation, and we were able to help Beatrice keep her car so she can continue with treatment.

Don*, also a part of the Roundup lawsuit, had developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after years of exposure to the herbicide. Even with insurance, the cost of his treatment became so expensive, that Don could no longer afford to pay for rent and utilities. Faced with a difficult decision, Don nearly gave up his home so he can afford to survive cancer. But, with the support of The Milestone Foundation, Don received enough funding for him to keep his home and continue treatment.

As we continue to honor the lives of those who have been recently diagnosed, who are amidst treatment, those who are in remission, and the lives of loved ones we’ve lost from cancer, we remain committed to doing our part to “close the care gap.”