Cancer, Finances and a Resource to Help

Aracelli Martinez (left) works with Social Service Technician Sarita Castro in the Practical Assistance Center.

Michigan was in the midst of its second economic downturn when Aracelli Martinez fell ill, recalling a terrible headache and itching all over her body. An area hospital referred her to the U-M Emergency Department, which led her to the Comprehensive Cancer Center. She received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow that help our bodies fight infection.

Aracelli signed on to participate in a clinical trial and responded well to treatment, despite the reality her disease could be aggressive and she might have as little as six months.

During that period, Aracelli lost her job. Then, her husband Miguel lost his job, too, and the van that came with his employment. Over the next year, with Aracelli still in treatment, the couple lost their home.

So, how did a couple without health insurance or employment in the midst of a recession pay for treatment?

Financial support

Patient Financial Counselor Sue Thornton sees many patients newly diagnosed with cancer who are stressed about bills they cannot pay.

“Often people come to me before they’ve even had a chance to accept a heavy duty diagnosis,” Thornton says. “We screen patients for state assistance and, once we get through that criteria, for other programs like MSupport or Medicaid.”

Practical support

According to Social Worker Katie Schneider, LLBSW, from the Guest Assistance Program, medication costs and transportation are key areas of stress for many cancer patients. For these practical matters, the Cancer Center’s Practical Assistance Center offers a range of services, like helping patients get wigs and figuring out which national and local programs offer aid for various expenses.

Learn more about Financial Services at the Cancer Center.

Contact the Practical Assistance Center:
877-907-0859, or visit the center on Level 1 of the Cancer Center

For Financial Services:

Guest Assistance Program: