Paying for Cancer:
Medical bills aren't the only costs that come with cancer. According to social worker Katie Schneider, L.L.B.S.W., from
the Guest Assistance Program, medication costs and transportation are key areas of stress for many cancer patients. For these
practical matters, the Cancer Center's Practical Assistance Center (PAC)
offers a range of services, like helping patients get wigs
or figuring out which national and local programs offer aid for various expenses.
The Martinez family was fortunate to be able to borrow a car from family members in order to make the drive from Auburn
Hills to Ann Arbor. For those without transportation, the PAC works with individual patients to find ways to obtain transportation and cover the
expense, whether through insurance, community agency programs or other methods.
Social Service Technician Sarita Castro works with Schneider to find solutions for patients' needs -- making phone calls, communicating
with physicians and nurses, and keeping patients informed on progress.
"I'm always learning about new cancer resources and they're changing all the time," Castro says. "I connect patients with the
resources out there. A number of patients need help with medication co-pays. There are a lot of foundations that help with
different cancer diagnoses. I help facilitate applying to co-pay relief foundations."
Schneider says many patients aren't prepared to learn their medications could cost thousands of dollars per month. For
Aracelli, whose condition is stable, taking a chemotherapy pill is part of her daily regimen. She utilizes PAC resources to help
with those costs.
"They help me coordinate my medication," Aracelli says. "Right now, Sarita and Katie are trying to get me one of the most expensive drugs.
They are talking directly to the pharmaceutical company to see what they can do."
Thornton stresses there are many different ways to problem-solve and think outside the box in order to help patients with
expenses. Her role, as well as Schneider's and Castro's at the PAC, is to understand the resources out there for cancer, understand
each patient's needs and facilitate those connections to help ease the financial burden so the patient can concentrate on