As frightening and stressful as a cancer diagnosis can be, the financial burdens associated with cancer care can be just as taxing. With cancer care costs rising on every front – from diagnostic testing to hospitalization and highly effective medications – many patients simply can’t manage both the out-of-pocket expenses associated with cancer care and their other financial obligations.
The clinicians and staff of Regional Cancer Care Associates, one of the nation’s largest networks of oncology specialists, understand this harsh reality. That’s why they have joined forces with other caring individuals and organizations to form RCC Charities, a non-profit organization committed to providing cancer patients and their families with the practical assistance they need at a very difficult time in their lives.
For Brick, N.J. residents Erich and Grada Werlin, the support proved invaluable. In 2018, Grada was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, which subsequently metastasized to her bones. After a valiant fight, she passed away on July 21, 2022, survived not only by Erich but also by three daughters, 11 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and many friends.
Grada received care from Ethan Wasserman, MD, a board-certified medical oncologist with RCCA, and the expert teams at RCCA’s Howell and Toms River, N.J. locations.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group,” Erich said of the specialists who cared for his wife. “They went all out and looked after Grada as though she were a family member. They were so caring, always taking time to converse with both of us and constantly checking in with my wife to see how she was doing while she was going through chemo,” he said. “They treat all of their patients with this level of kindness and compassion, and I truly can’t say enough about them.”
“Dr. Wasserman stayed on top of her case at all times and was always evaluating different and effective medications that could offer the fewest side effects,” Erich added. When Dr. Wasserman determined that Grada would be a good candidate for an oral therapy, the Werlins saw how RCCA’s commitment to its patients goes beyond the purely clinical.
“In late 2020 or early 2021, Grada was prescribed a specialized medication for the treatment of HR-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer, and we saw how expensive those pills were,” said Erich, who works at a big-box retail store. “With Grada unable to continue working full-time as a secretary and a receptionist due to her illness, I was the sole earner in the house, and that made it difficult to cover the cost of her pills and meet all of our other expenses,” he said. “I shared this situation with Dr. Wasserman, and he told me that RCCA had an initiative called RCC Charities to help people just like us with their household bills unrelated to medical care.”
“I applied online for a grant from RCC Charities, submitted the financial documents requested, and this spring we received a check for $500 toward our mortgage,” a grateful Erich said. “The check was a huge relief — we had a little money for the mortgage, but we didn’t have it all, and that check was all we needed to help cover that expense and get us over a hurdle.”
Always There for Their Patients
“The doctors, nurses, and other team members at RCCA are just outstanding people,” Erich said. “They truly cared about Grada, and anytime she ran out of pills or couldn’t fill her prescription, they were always there to provide samples or help in any way. I’m so grateful for the financial support they provided — so many people need this help, and RCC Charities was there for us.”
For more information on RCC Charities, visit RCCCharities.org.