Laura Lowery

Hope is the best gift anyone can receive, and that’s what the Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia gives to oncology patients in 25 counties.

Laura Lowery, Executive Director of the Foundation told Rotarians that last year, 2020, it provided $438,000 in financial assistance to over 700 local patients. The Cancer Foundation is not a research center. It is not looking for a cancer cure, although that would be wonderful. Financial assistance in times of cancer crisis is what they do. The average out-of-pocket cost for a cancer patient is $35,000, putting quite a strain on most households, so that is where its efforts go.

A group of oncology physicians in Northeast Georgia came to realize that many of their patients were dying because they simply could not afford the care they needed, so they formed the Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia. Certain cancer drugs cost in the vicinity of six figures, and even with deductibles, these drugs can run in the thousands of dollars. Some patients are left with choices of buying their medicine, paying their rent or mortgage, or paying utility bills. A new profession, Oncology Social Workers, is the biggest assistance to oncology physicians and to the Cancer Foundation. These trained professionals are volunteers who ask patients about their top problems and listen for clues on financial distress. If financial distress is suspected, they go to the Cancer Foundation website and plug in information the foundation needs. To be eligible for assistance, a patient must be a current cancer patient in active care, be age 18 or older, live in the 25-county service area, and have an income of 250 percent or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

The Cancer Foundation has helped eligible patients with property taxes, utility bills, wheelchairs, and prescribed cancer garments among other needs. It cuts checks directly to the mortgage company, utility department, or wherever the money is going, so the patient never has to deal with that aspect. The Foundation is a non-profit organization and is funded totally by donations and monies procured by fund raisers such as auctions and parties. All interested persons can contact Laura Lowery at 706-202-0519 or at llowery@cfnega.org.

Ellen Cowne provides news from the Rotary Club of Madison County.

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