Gift to stem cancer patients’ financial pain

The Cindy Foundation has made a $15,500 gift to Christiana Care Health System to support the Cancer Special Needs Fund at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

The fund provides patients with financial assistance for medical and related expenses not covered by health care insurance, said a Christiana Care press release.

“Cancer’s toll on families is not only physical and emotional, it’s also often financial,” Dr. Nicholas J. Petrelli, Bank of America endowed medical director of the Graham Cancer Center, said in the release. “The health system’s mission is to serve our community and to take care of the people we serve. At the Graham Cancer Center, we provide excellent clinical care and supportive services, and we connect patients with resources like our Special Needs Fund to ease the financial burden of cancer. The Cindy Foundation’s generous support enables us to help more patients during the most challenging time of their lives.”

Founded in 2009, the Delaware-based Cindy Foundation honors the life and memory of Cynthia “Cindy” DiPinto, a Delawarean who died of ovarian cancer at age 43. In the past seven years the nonprofit has supported efforts in awareness, education and research. Christiana Care is one of its major recipients.

“Since we started, the foundation has donated a total of $76,750 to the Graham Cancer Center’s Special Needs Fund,” said Delaware State Rep. Helene F. Keeley, a foundation founder and longtime friend of its namesake. “The health system is a major partner in the foundation’s cancer fighting efforts. It means a great deal to us that we can help this world-class provider offer a financial safety net for patients who might otherwise forgo care or incur debt while dealing with cancer.”

Cancer is one of the most expensive diseases for adults, according to recent research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After a diagnosis, patients frequently face unexpected out-of-pocket expenses that insurance does not cover, an extra output that can cause financial setbacks for families on limited incomes. In some instances, the impact on their financial health is long-term. A just published "Health Affairs" study finds that working-age cancer survivors or a member of their families often go into debt to pay for care, some even declaring bankruptcy.

Christiana Care launched the Cancer Special Needs Fund in 1999. Made possible through corporate, foundation and private donor support, this resource has provided more than 2,100 cancer patients with funds for assistance with discharge medications, transportation to and from appointments, bone marrow testing for potential marrow donors, dental care for patients with head and neck cancer and other unforeseen costs.

“Cindy was a dear friend, amazing person and fierce advocate for better cancer care, awareness and research,” said Kim Gomes, a political consultant for the Byrd Group, LLC, who helped start the Foundation. “This gift to Christiana Care is a way for everyone who loved her to keep her memory alive while also helping others battle this devastating disease.”

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