Sunday, December 6, 2009

For those who think we don't need reform...

RB: ... read the story of Kyler here.

A 5-year old boy is battling neuroblastoma, and his insurance company, HealthAmerica, has denied coverage for treatment (including denying an appeal), because the therapy recommended by his oncologist, MIBG, is considered by HealthAmerica to be "investigational/experimental".

Here is an email I received asking for help:

Five-year-old Kyler VanNocker was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of two-and-a-half. After enduring a year of treatment at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that included a seven-month stay inpatient and complications that resulted in kidney failure as well as heart, lung and liver disease, Kyler finally went into remission in September 2008 and was able to experience “normal” childhood once more.

Neuroblastoma is a very aggressive type of cancer, however, and ten weeks ago, follow-up tests revealed Kyler’s cancer had returned. Part of what makes this particular cancer so relentless is that recurrent Neuroblastoma involves a different type of treatment protocol than an initial diagnosis, and Kyler’s oncologist determined that the only effective treatment option for Kyler is MIBG Therapy. MIBG Therapy is a clinical trial, much like the 3F8 treatment that Baby Billy is currently receiving. But please keep in mind that because there is no cure for Neuroblastoma, these clinical trials are the standard of care and the only chance these children have for survival. Kyler’s insurance carrier, HealthAmerica, does not seem to understand that, however, and despite the doctors’ recommendations, has denied coverage for the therapy because it is experimental and investigational in nature and is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Out-of-pocket expenses have left the VanNockers bankrupt. Without this procedure, Kyler’s only option is to receive Hospice Care and he will be sent home to die a slow and agonizing death.

The Plan:

Dena’s plan was triggered by the story of Noah Biorkman, a five-year-old who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in 2007 at the age of three, who went into remission, but then relapsed in September of 2008, the very same month that Kyler VanNocker went into remission.

When Noah’s mother, Diana Biorkman, posted an article on a CarePage site asking people to send Christmas cards to Noah so they could celebrate the holiday early due to Noah’s declining health, what followed was a FaceBook page, a television crew, and an outpouring of love – and Christmas cards arriving in their Michigan home. One day they received 64 cards. The next day, they received 80,000. Sadly, after a long battle with Neuroblastoma, Noah passed away on November 23rd, but not before receiving 1,000,000 Christmas cards!

The Tidal Wave:

Because this endeavor was so successful, Arms Wide Open is asking you for a repeat performance – but with a twist. Instead of sending a $2.99 Christmas card to Kyler, we are asking for each of you to donate $1.00. That’s it. It is amazing how connected this world has become because of the internet, and if you contribute $1.00 and pass on this email to everyone in your address book and they contribute $1.00, collectively, we can buy the VanNockers time and send them enough money to pay for Kyler’s next MIBG treatment. Changes need to be made to the healthcare system in the United States, and it is an atrocity when an insurance company puts a dollar amount on a child’s life, but this change with insurance companies and legislation and lawmakers is a slow process and, unfortunately, time is not a friend to any of these children battling Neuroblastoma. We know times are tough, but $1.00 is not a lot to ask for and when you add that to the other dollars, IT WILL SAVE A LIFE. Please look under your couch cushions, under the floor mats in your car, the bottom of your pocketbooks, and please tell everyone you know to do that as well, because every dime counts, every second counts, and every single one of you count. If this was your child, would Hospice be acceptable?

We didn’t think so. Give the gift of life this holiday season.

The Address:
Paul and Maria VanNocker
115 East Franklin Avenue
Edgewater Park, New Jersey 08010

With Hope,
Tracy Neilson,
Vice President, Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Also, PLEASE check out the "Arms Wide Open" Facebook Page for more information, and, regrettably, more stories of families in the same situation...

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