Charmaine Sarpong is devoted to helping others. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, the tables were turned. She would now be the one asking for help.
Within two months of her diagnosis, doctors realized the standard of care wasn’t working for her and the cancer was spreading to her spine. Charmaine was forced to quit her job. She started what would become a full-time search for hope; looking for options to get herself into a clinical trial.
After enrolling in her first clinical trial, she soon realized that wasn’t working either. Then she found a second clinical trial at MD Anderson in Houston, testing a new therapy that was showing promise in patients like her. Doctors said she would need to get herself to MD Anderson every 6 weeks – a drive time of 5 hours each way. At this point, Charmaine was willing to do just about anything, the problem was the expense. Her husband quit working because of a health condition he was battling, and their savings account was being drained. To make matters more complicated, the clinical trial will soon require her to travel twice a month.
The trial sponsor was offering nothing in terms of travel reimbursements, so when a social worker told Charmaine about Lazarex Cancer Foundation, she says it was the ultimate relief. “I stay on a tight budget, but it’s still a financial hardship paying for gas, tolls, parking and a hotel each time I travel to MD Anderson. I’m on disability .. and I can’t afford it. Having Lazarex help us is a lifesaver. It’s remarkable.”
Currently, while her numbers are good, Charmaine’s immune system is compromised. While she is exhausted from the clinical trial, she knows she can keep up the fight as long as Lazarex is there for her. “You’ve got to fight…” she says, “and because Lazarex is in my corner, I can.”