February 21st, 2024

Alberta Cancer Foundation program gets financial boost


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 30, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Patient Financial Assistance Program is receiving a substantial gift to match donations in February.

World Cancer Day on Sunday (Feb. 4) will mark the start of a gift campaign provided by an anonymous donor who will be matching up to $200,000 of donations received until Feb. 28.

Vice president of Communications and Community Partnerships Ryan Kelly said Monday in a phone interview that this gift will allow the foundation to help Albertans facing cancer have one less thing to worry about.

“I think financial stresses is one of those hidden costs of cancer that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it can be a real burden on some families and the last thing you need to worry about when you’re going through cancer treatment is you can you pay the bills, can you afford to feed your family,” said Kelly.

 He said the program the foundation to take that stress off families wherever they can, so the focus can be on getting the care and treatment patients need to regain their health.

The program, which has been around for 20 years, has helped hundreds of Albertans and their families cover some of the costs related to their cancer journey.

“Last year I think we gave almost $1 million in financial support out to Albertans who were facing financial challenges, and without that support I think a lot of Albertans would have slipped through the cracks probably and frankly maybe not have gotten the treatment they needed because they had to make that difficult choice,” said Kelly.

He said the hope is to be able to disburse another million dollars this year and the matching donation gift will allow the foundation to raise up to $400,000 towards that goal.

The program is funded solely by donations, and in 2023 it provided financial support to hundreds of families in 135 communities across the province.

One Albertan who benefited from the Patient Financial Assistance program recently is Michael Kosterman, who received his cancer diagnosis in January 2022 and told the Herald on Monday that the assistance program was of great help when he and his wife needed it the most.

“I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia on Jan. 19, 2022, and I stayed in the Calgary Foothills medical centre until August of 2022,” said Kosterman.

 He said everything happened so fast – One day he was unable to work, which meant he and his wife had to rely on one income and bills started to pile up.

“We were really lucky to have the support of the patient financial assistance program just so that we could pay our rent, so we had a place to live, and also gas to travel back and forth for my wife,” said Kosterman.

He explained at the beginning because he and his wife were unsure he was going to survive, she drove two-and-a-half hours from Duchess to Calgary almost on a daily basis while still working. Kosterman added rent was another expense the assistance program helped them with.

“We have such a nice landlord out here, we fell two or three months behind in rent and we were panicking more than he was I think, but he’s a super nice guy, so when we got the assistance we paid him off right away and then that took a huge burden off of us,” said Kosterman.

Kosterman said he hopes Albertans continue to donate to the program as others like him can benefit so much from it.

“Imagine if that happened to you, or your daughter, or your son,” said Kosterman

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