Breast cancer is not a battle that should be fought alone, but if you're worried about bills piling up instead of focused on getting well, a St. Louis non-profit can help you or someone you know.
Gateway to Hope gives free and complete care to cancer patients and their families who otherwise could not afford treatment. It provides a lifeline to women battling breast cancer.
"I was healthy; never sick," Carlene Newell says.
That was until she found a lump in her breast during a self exam.
"These are the pills I take," she says, holding a small cup of multi-colored pills.
This marks chemo number 12 before Newell starts radiation. It's treatment she never thought she'd receive, because she couldn't afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary to save her life.
"I was at the point that if I lived, I lived. If I didn't, it didn't matter," Newell says about the low point in her life.
But then the mother of two found Gateway to Hope -- and a new lease on life. The St. Louis non-profit foots the entire bill for breast cancer patients who are uninsured or under-insured.
"She's a nun, this is a nursing student," Nurse Amber Mabie says as she points out the list of patients that vary from school teacher to stay at home mom.
Mabie plays the role the role of counselor, friend and health care provider.
"We can help with other things like child care, transportation, food and medicine," Mabie says. "We want to those concerns away from them so that they can just concentrate on getting well."
The non-profit relies on hospitals like Missouri Baptist and doctors, like reconstructive surgeon David Caplin, who donate their space and skills to treat their patients -- for free.
"Many of our patients would have no other option if we were not here," Dr. Caplin says. "They make enough money that they don't qualify for Medicaid ; they don't make enough money to afford health insurance, so we really consider ourselves a lifeline for breast cancer patients."
"Gateway to Hope was my saving grace. I don't know where I'd be now if I didn't have it," Newell says. "It just gave me a whole other chance for a new life!"
Gateway to Hope wants to expand the charity into other cities. Doctors say the organization could also be modified to treat patients with other diseases.
Click on Gateway to Hope to find out how to help or how to get help.