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Rhonda Long

I was on a trip with my best girlfriends when the pain hit. It was the same pain and discomfort I’d been feeling intermittently for some time. I knew something wasn’t right.  But every time I saw a specialist, no one could figure out what was wrong.  Then came a gallbladder attack, later what appeared to be an allergic reaction.  All the while, the excruciating pain persisted, and it seemed like everything was falling apart. A working mom of two boys, my husband and I were determined to get answers.

Rhonda Long

Throughout three years, my condition remained a mystery. Until finally one doctor noticed what she thought was a gall stone and it prompted her to dig deeper. 

Following a litany of biopsies and tests, my doctors determined it was cancer – a rare bile duct cancer. A surgeon cut out more than half of my liver, removed 13 lymph nodes and found cancer in two of them. 

My team started me on a regimen of standard chemo and radiation. While the first round worked, the second round did not.  I needed a lifeline. The next step was a clinical trial. Thankfully my oncologist found one and I was eligible. It was the hope I needed.  But… there was a catch. I would have to travel every 3 weeks from Ohio to Boston just to get my treatment. This wasn’t something my family could afford.

As expenses piled up with each trip, I wondered how long I would be able to stay in the trial. My husband and I had always been so vigilant with our savings, mindful about planning for retirement, and keeping up with health insurance… but there’s no preparing you for this. 

I was spending one thousand dollars each trip, none of it covered by insurance – yet all of it was required for me to get to my treatment.  I thought, ‘how much more can you take from me, cancer!?” That’s when I learned about Lazarex Cancer Foundation.

When I saw the Lazarex website, it spoke to me. I knew that many African American cancer patients don’t participate in clinical trials because of lack of resources. But because of the reimbursements from Lazarex, I’m able to continue in a program – a life-saving clinical trial –  that I would have been excluded from because of financial difficulties. 

Until you walk in the shoes of cancer you don’t know what cancer is like. Lazarex has given me the opportunity to be home with my children and to focus on the process of healing. God has put people on my path who have helped me immeasurably. The family at Lazarex Cancer Foundation is among them. 

I cannot stress the importance of what they are doing .. and how it’s impactful it’s been on my life.  Today, after a year on my clinical trial, my cancer is stable, I’m at home with my family and I’m able to continue to participate in my clinical trial.  Lazarex has been a life saver, and I don’t use that term lightly.