Hope, Help During a Chronic Illness


DEAt 80 years old, Fort Worth resident Everett Winters still leads an active lifestyle of playing golf, enjoying tennis and spending time with his wife, Norma.

Family and friends say it is hard to look at Winters today and recognize that he is a cancer survivor. Just four years ago, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form of plasma cancer cells that also affect the bone marrow.

“If you were to see me in person today, you would not realize that I had four years of medical treatments for multiple myeloma,” Winters said. “My friends tell me that it’s hard to believe that I had a serious medical illness.”

Winters also had two stem cell transplants at the medical center at Medical City of Dallas.

He said the treatments and help he received would not have been possible if it weren’t for the financial assistance he received from Good Days from CDF, a non-profit organization that helps patients suffering from chronic illnesses receive financial aid to help pay for their care.

Based in Plano, the organization has been in existence since 2003. It was formerly known as the Chronic Disease Fund.

“We have provided around $1 billion dollars in assistance since our founding,” said Clorinda Walley, executive director of Good Days from CDF. “Our mission is to ensure no one has to choose between getting the medication they need and affording the necessities of everyday living.

“Our founder had Chron’s disease and had to pay $1,600 for one treatment. He could afford it since he was an executive at a big company but at the same time he was concerned about the high cost of treatments for patients with chronic illness and was wondering how people with less financial means could pay for their treatments. When he researched to see how many organizations there were to help people pay medical costs and found out there were very few organizations in the country to help people in this situation, he decided to start Good Days from CDF.”

The organization helps around 100,000 to 120,000 patients per year.

Walley said the foundation assists patients with paying for their medications when they can’t afford them after their insurance has paid its portion.

“In Dallas alone, we have provided $3 million dollars in assistance and we consider ourselves a significant presence in the community in providing that income gap and to those patients in need,” she said.

Winters said his treatments costs ran about $13,000 a month and his insurance only paid half of that. Winters’ doctor suggested he get in touch with the organization to see how they could help.

“When I got in touch with CDF, they assured me that they wanted to do whatever they could to assist me,” Winters said. “Without the support of the CDF, I’m not sure how I might be doing today, not physically, but from a financial stand point. They have been side by side with me for four years now. I have a wife who is 15 years younger than me and without the support I received from Good Days, I’m not sure how I could have some finances in our banking account and to support my wife.”

According to a recent study published in Leukemia, African Americans are twice as likely at a higher risk for getting multiple myeloma than Whites due to genetic factors.

The condition is also the 14th most common cancer in the United States. Researchers also found that among a group of 100,000 African Americans, 14.8 of men and 10.5 percent of women would be diagnosed with the disease.

Winters said he was diagnosed after a routine doctor’s visit four years ago and said he was lucky and blessed to receive the treatment that he had.

“I have been so blessed in the sense that my doctor had informed me early on that at the end of my age, they don’t normally treat people with stem cell transplants,” Winters said. “They rarely treated anyone more than 65 years of age. They decided to take a chance with me. It’s important for me to say based upon my recovery and how things are going on with me now that doctors are now examining whether they should advance this treatment to persons who are older because of my success. I am so pleased that others who are my age will also be eligible for stem cell transplant in the future.”

The organization is funded through donations and in order to qualify for financial aid, certain things like household income and size and personal finances are considered. Also, funding is provided to those with certain chronic conditions. They also help cover transportation and lodging costs for those patients who have to travel far to receive treatment, according to Walley.

“Things have gone wonderfully well for me after all the help I received from Good Days from CDF and the treatments I received from my doctors,” Winters said.

Winters said CDF is an unique, caring organization.

“They have prolonged my life and provided me an opportunity to be active,” he said. “It’s more than just the financial support I received. When I visit their offices, the people there were so welcoming and interested in my progress. I am thankful that there is an organization that helps people financially with medical needs that we probably cannot survive without their contribution and their assistance.”

 Read the original article at Dallas Examiner.

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