My husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Cancer in October 2014. We had three teenage boys at the time who took on the role of caregiver along with me. I wish that I could say that our journey ended when he went into remission in May of 2015. But cancer reared its ugly head again in 2016. This started our journey of trying different treatments in order to reach remission again. Unfortunately, we ran out of treatments that were available to our local doctors in Great Falls, Montana, forcing us to travel for his care. We were sent for consultations in both Billings, Montana and Seattle, Washington for a chance at a successful, different treatment option. When you are dealing with cancer your budget is extremely tight and you have to pick and choose what bills to pay and what bills you need to wait on until the next paycheck just so you can afford to travel.
When we traveled to Billings for treatment, we had limited cash with us. There was no medical housing available in Billings and we had to go through the American Cancer Society for assistance covering our hotel. The hotel chosen by the American Cancer Society had a $50 hold requirement on our credit card for the room deposit. Unfortunately, we were checking in on the weekend and could not go to the bank to add money to our account. This meant that we had to go to Wal-Mart just to purchase a Green Dot card and put the $50 on the card for the deposit just so we could check in to our hotel room. This took a large chunk out of our very strict food budget for the trip.
We found out that Medicaid travel only covered $40 per night for a hotel, $0.40 per mile for gas and $16.50 per day for food. This ended up only covering a small percentage of the expenses for every trip that we had to take due to the medical procedures.
Thankfully, our experience in Seattle was better because they had housing through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCAA). The SCAA also provided a shuttle that took our family back and forth from housing to the clinic for appointments. The amount we paid for the housing at SCAA was affordable which meant for the first time in a long time, our family was able to take some much-needed budget money to do some sightseeing in Seattle and spend time together as a family. It reduced the stress we had experienced throughout our other travels.
Having housing available for the families of patients is such a blessing and it would allow them to have peace of mind when it comes to the financial burden due to medical travel. The new proposed housing for the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation is a much needed asset at the Clinic. It would provide much-needed assistance for families that have to travel for medical services and make it easier for families to cope with the expenses that accompany travel. I am excited to see the project come to life. I feel this is a wonderful addition and I support the Foundation’s goal and vision for this project.