PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The coronavirus pandemic has created a particularly tricky situation for cancer patients and the nonprofit groups still trying to help them financially despite their own budget woes.
Susan G Komen Oregon and Southwest Washington is known for its annual race. It’s an uplifting and emotional time to create community and raise money.
Fundraising kicks off in April at the Lunch for the Cure event but it was canceled this year. Donations have dried up but the need has not.
“People are losing their jobs, being under-insured or under-employed. You put that on top of medical expenses—these are real patients in real time going for care across our region,” said Andrew Asato, CEO of Susan G Komen Oregon SW Washington.
Komen and KOIN 6 are instead launching a virtual telethon. The longtime partners hope to raise $100,000 on Thursday for Komen’s Treatment Access Program for patients.
“You can live a mile from your hospital and you can receive a $100 gift card that you can use for groceries, electricity, food—whatever have you,” Asato said.
It’s a low-barrier program and nurse navigators are in charge of dispersing the money to patients in as little as five days.
“We came in to check our mail a few weeks ago and written across the back of an envelope it said, ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and it was a Treatment Access recipient,” said Asato.
Komen usually gives out $6,500 every month through the program but the amount nearly doubled in April as cash-strapped patients needed more help than ever. Komen is now spending about $13,000 a month on patients.
“We can not have them skip appointments, making decisions about food scarcity or getting care,” Asato said. “Our nurse navigators who are working closely throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington have been so clear in the need to us and that’s why we responded in this way.”
Komen is also offering $400 in a single disbursement (and up to $800 a year) to patients who need even more help. Asato said Komen also wrote a $15,000 check to the Treatment Access Program in April and plans to do so again in June. Donations on Thursday will go directly to that.
Join KOIN 6 on Thursday for a day of giving. Your donations will go directly to Komen’s Treatment Access Program to provide funds for transportation, food and lodging for breast cancer patients in treatment.
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