Monday, January 23, 2012

Extreme Good that Grew out of Bad

Sometimes when you hear or read about patient assistance programs, they sound totally awesome in theory.  In reality you often find out that your patient had to fill out 400 forms, give all of their tax records, and jump through a ton of hoops only to be told that they don’t qualify for assistance. 

I hate this!!!  It is a big tease.  Cancer patients have to preserve their energy.  When you make them jump through all these hoops for nothing, you expend their energy and you dash their hopes that they can get some help.  This makes me crazy!!!  Don’t screw with cancer patients!!!

But I digress.  Now, I’m going to tell you about a FABULOUS “tried and true” resource.  It is for women with breast cancer who live in Massachusetts who are undergoing treatment for their cancer.  It is the EXTREMELY AWESOME  ELLIE FUND!!!

The backstory on The Ellie Fund……It came to be because 2 brothers wanted to honor their mother’s love and spirit.  Their mother (Ellie!) fought breast cancer for 9 years, and during that time they found out firsthand the toll that fighting cancer can take on a family.  In 1995, Jeff and Eliot Popkin started the Ellie Fund to assist women with breast cancer and their families.   I’ve never met them, but I love them.  What a great way to honor their mother’s legacy!!

Someone else I love from The Ellie Fund who I actually have met????  The executive director:  Julie Nations.  She ROCKS!!!  In the early days, she was a one woman operation.  She took the applications for assistance and approved them, distributed the assistance AND was the fundraising person for The Ellie Fund.  The fund grew, and now she has a team to assist her, and a lot of dedicated volunteers to help .  Anyway, she is a total doll and a genuinely kind and caring person!!!

Bottom Line, here is how it works:
 If you are a breast cancer patient receiving treatment in Massachusetts, a health professional has to apply for you.   So, hunt down your patient navigator, nurse or social worker and ask them to pursue this for you.  They can download a simple application and will ask you a few questions.   They submit the application and around the 25th of the month, the applications are reviewed and assistance is given out the next week.

Here are the services that The Ellie Fund offers:
1) Assistance with Transportation to Medical Appointments  (cab vouchers, pre-paid gas cards, reimbursement for gas or parking at the hospital, car service).
2) Reimbursement for Licensed Childcare
3) Nutrition (Grocery Cards or Prepared Meals)
4) Light Housekeeping

Their assistance does not go on forever.  It may be for a month or a couple of months, it all depends on how many applicants they have that month, what type of assistance has been applied for, and how much has been donated to the fund that month.  But no matter the length of time, it is an AWESOME and AMAZING resource that our patients REALLY appreciate. 

Many of our patients have been helped by this fund.  Several have said that they were on their very last nerve and just knowing that someone cared about them, and the assistance provided was enough to “get them over the hump”.


If you are not a cancer patient and you are reading this….The Ellie Fund is always looking for good volunteers and donors.  Are you looking for an organization that will REALLY help someone?  This is it. 

You know how sometimes when you make a donation to an organization you aren’t entirely sure how much of your donation is actually going to the person in need?
This foundation is true and real and the women with breast cancer are definitely getting helped.  I can say that for sure.

They have a lot of fun fundraisers throughout the year, but their biggest event is their Oscar Gala in February, so buy a ticket if you can!!!

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