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Ava and Robert’s Story

Ava and Robert have been together for 40 years. Robert is a postal carrier. Ava retired from her job at the Pentagon in 2008 to take care of her father. The two had dreams of traveling the world one day.  But those dreams were put on hold when Ava started experiencing back problems.

Ava and Robert
Robert and Ava

She couldn’t figure out what was causing it. She went to multiple doctors, a general practitioner, even a vein clinic, but they found nothing. Ava eventually had a CT scan and the doctor noticed lymph nodes near her back and spine. Her next stop was an oncologist. Soon thereafter Ava was diagnosed with stage 4 follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That was 2019.

Like most patients diagnosed with cancer, Ava was immediately put on chemo in June of that year. Her treatments continued for nearly two and a half years, until November of 2021 when the chemo stopped working.

Doctors suggested a clinical trial. The problem was that Ava and her husband Robert live in Delaware. The trial was located 93 miles away in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins – a two-hour drive each way. To take part in the trial meant traveling to Baltimore every two weeks.  That’s on top of Robert’s regular commute to Northern Virginia to work as a postal carrier.

The challenge was not only the long drive time, it was also the mounting cost of gas and parking plus care for their dogs when they were away.

“The drives were tough,” Ava’s husband Robert recalls. “I have two dogs and I had to put them in a kennel while we were away. It became too expensive and I eventually had to give one of my dogs away.  We tried our best to make the journey fun.”

They searched to cut down on expenses.  Their search turned up Lazarex Cancer Foundation. They applied for and started receiving travel reimbursements which eased the financial burden allowing them to continue traveling to the trial.

“The reimbursements have been so helpful,” said Ava, “I don’t know that we would be able to participate for this long with the clinical trial if it weren’t for Lazarex.”

The good news? The trial worked.  The treatment Ava received in the trial helped so much her cancer went into remission.

“Lazarex is a very giving organization – both financially and in how they support their patients. They’re extremely helpful.”