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October 27, 2020

Financial help was a “godsend" for breast cancer survivor


Financial help was a “godsend" for breast cancer survivor

When COVID-19 hit people all over the world, breast cancer also hit Anna Lowman in Mt. Wolf.

The convergence of a global pandemic and a very personal disease was devastating for Anna.

Her breast cancer diagnosis brought biopsies, two mastectomies, chemotherapy sessions, drains, blood tests and scans.

COVID brought a cutback to her work hours, a shrinking income and a real fear of eviction.

“Everything was changing daily in my life,” she said. “It was a mess.”

Fortunately, Anna received financial help for her living expenses and medical bills from the WellSpan Cancer Patient Help Fund and from a York community group called Pink Power, which both provide financial assistance to qualifying patients.

The assistance was a “godsend” for Anna, who lives with two daughters and her boyfriend, who also lost his income due to the pandemic.

“We weren’t able to pay our bills,” Anna said. “We were going to have to play serious catchup and didn’t want to end up homeless. That was the big thing.”

Gina Folk, a financial counselor for the WellSpan York Cancer Center, said the center wants patients to focus on their health and not have to worry about paying bills. Anna and Gina both felt a connection to each other as they worked through her needs.

“I always wonder why I was meant to come to this department and the more I talk to patients, the more I realize that I like to relate to them,” Gina said. “If something like cancer happened to me, I would want someone to reach out to and help me.”

The WellSpan Cancer Patient Help Fund paid two months of Anna’s rent as well as an electric bill, a car payment and a car insurance bill, providing about $4,000 of assistance in all. So far this year, the fund has provided almost $190,000 in financial assistance to more than 80 patients, supported by gifts to the WellSpan York Health Foundation.

Pink Power provided Anna with $1,300 to help cover an insurance deductible payment for her cancer treatment. So far this year, Pink Power has provided almost $10,000 in assistance to 10 WellSpan patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The funding goes into the Pink Power Fund at the WellSpan York Cancer Center, which distributes the support to patients. Pink Power also provides financial support to other cancer patients in the York community.

Anna now is working more hours at her job in the billing department of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, as she awaits follow-up reconstructive surgery. But her life is on the upswing.

She recently got the results of her latest biopsy: Everything is clear, and she is cancer-free.

”I can’t imagine right now, without that assistance, where we would be, owing all of that money,” Anna said. “Catching up would have been nearly impossible. That help was essential for us. It made the difference between night and day.

“I’m healing now and I’m in the light on the other side of the tunnel.”