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Charity helps address the financial side effect of breast cancer

Oct 23, 2014

Credit User: williami5 / Flickr

Each October, the nation blooms with pink: It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

The big push is often about awareness, as in "don't forget to get your mammogram" and in raising money for breast cancer research.

But there's a lesser-told side of the breast-cancer story: the financial hardships so many patients endure as they go through treatment.

Molly MacDonald of Oakland County knows this all too well through her own breast cancer experience.

That's why she founded The Pink Fund, a nation-wide organization offering financial aid to breast cancer patients. 

MacDonald says patients suffering from breast cancer are often going through side effects so challenging that they can no longer perform their jobs. These side effects are things like the so-called "chemo brain," a cognitive impairment that can prevent patients from putting a sentence together. And there's neuropathy -- the numbing of fingers and toes that severely impacts a patient's ability to lift things or even type.

Without work, there's no income during the avalanche of hardship. A national report looked at the "financial toxicity" as an actual side effect and explored ways in which doctors can intervene and address the missing link in cancer treatment: remedying the catastrophic financial loss stemming from expensive therapies.

"The patients often doesn't think about this. We always talk about fighting for their lives. Patients in active treatment in any kind of cancer may lose their livelihood. Well guess what happens? When push comes to shove, they'll stop treatment and return to work," says MacDonald.

* Listen to our conversation with Molly MacDonald above.