The provincial government has agreed to pay the costs for a Colchester County man to receive treatment in the United States for a rare form of cancer.
Stephen Saunders, 58, was informed in late November that he only had a few months to live if he did not receive CAR-T cell therapy treatment for Non Hodgkin Lymphoma.
The treatment is not available in Canada and the closest place where Saunders can receive the treatment is at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston at a cost of almost $900,000.
“I work in a cancer ward (in Inverness) and I know that his diagnosis is not a good one,” said Saunders’s daughter Hailey MacDonald. “If you are going to have cancer, you don’t want his type of cancer.”
Saunders and his family were initially informed by the provincial government that it would not cover the cost of the required treatments. But after his story went viral on social media the government agreed to pay for the costs for Saunders to travel to the cancer institute for a consultation with doctors there.
“When we went to Boston we got the great news that he is an ideal candidate,” MacDonald said.
Shortly after returning home with that news, Saunders received a call from his oncologist saying the province would cover the cost for his treatments.
He expects to travel to Boston next week for several days for a collection of his T-cells after which he will return home for a couple of weeks. After that, Saunders will have to return to Boston for the treatment.
“So when they put them back into his body, they grow rapidly and they recognize his cancer cells and attack it and essentially kill them,” MacDonald said. “So, it uses his own body to do these things.”
After about a three-week hospital stay, he will have to remain in Boston for several months for follow-up monitoring and so forth.
Saunders has to reside within an hour’s travel time from the cancer institute and he must have someone with him at all times.
And while the provincial government will cover a portion of his travel and accommodation costs, his family estimates they will still require about $10,000 in personal finances to cover those costs.
“As a family we are completely over whelmed in a good way with the amount of support we’ve had from people,” MacDonald said.
But in an effort to help raise the additional funding that will be required, a GoFundMe page - Send Stephen to Boston for CAR-T - has been established.
More to follow… .