In the spring of 2020, as we all adjusted to a nationwide shutdown, Lung Cancer Initiative (LCI) knew we needed to act quickly to continue supporting survivors during a very uncertain time. That is when LCI piloted the Patient Emergency Fund, a program designed to support lung cancer patients in handling emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the launch of the Patient Emergency Fund in the spring of 2020, we provided stipends of up to $250 to patients to help with healthy food costs, transportation, and other non-medical, but essential expenses. The funds were exhausted within a matter of days. With such a clear and urgent need, we launched the program again in the summer of 2020. In total, LCI distributed a total of $20,000 among 80 lung cancer survivors across North Carolina in 2020.
Originally, this program began in response to the pandemic, but we quickly learned that the emergencies lung cancer patients needed support in did not necessarily stem from the global pandemic, but from the circumstances related to their diagnosis. In 2021, LCI helped 60 lung cancer patients receive $200 stipends to assist with the cost of basic needs, such as utility bills, transportation, and healthy foods.
Patient Emergency Fund 2021 North Carolina distribution map
To fully understand how these stipends helped lung cancer patients in a time of need, here are a few quotes from Patient Emergency Fund recipients:
"Your gift has allowed us to continue his treatments without worry of the little things needed to keep us going day-to-day. For instance, our tires were nearly bald but your gift helped pay for new tires! So often it is forgotten, how important every penny is when you are experiencing a crisis like Cancer."
"I need help with my medical bills, my housing, and getting to my treatments. There are very limited resources now, especially for transportation, and I have had to use Uber a lot."
"As a Small Cell Lung Cancer patient, my life changes day-to-day. My husband drives me 150 miles round-trip once or sometimes twice a week for various appointments. This extra money has helped with food and gas. We can’t thank Lung Cancer Initiative enough! So thankful your program is there to help us patients."
While we recognize that the pandemic has made accessing proper lung cancer care more challenging, there are other challenges that lung cancer patients will continue to navigate beyond the pandemic: utilizing disability benefits, sometimes leaving employment due to health limitations, losing insurance coverage, and more. That’s why LCI has decided to continue the Patient Emergency Fund beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We will offer this support annually and continue to help patients navigate all the uncertainties related to living life with lung cancer.
If you would like to support programs like the Patient Emergency Fund, click the button below to contribute today.