With rising costs of chemotherapy treatment bills for cancer patients, Up Cancer at the University of Michigan, an organization aiming to create a community of cancer patients and survivors, is promoting the passage of a House Bill in Michigan that would impose an oral chemotherapy insurance mandate.
Chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients can be taken via pills from home to avoid regular hospital trips involving the receiving of drugs through an IV. However, many patients are unable to make the choice of which kind of chemotherapy they would like to undergo due to high insurance costs for pills.
If passed, Michigan House Bill 4354 would help cancer patients receive the option to complete chemotherapy from home. The bill has been passed in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.
LSA junior Stephanie Preda is a co-chair of Up Cancer’s Legislative Committee, the committee focused on legislation relating to cancer. Preda said she chose to be on the legislative committee to have a voice on cancer-related issues.
“Many people (doing in-person chemotherapy) can’t keep a job because they’re at appointments so often, and childcare is an issue — you can’t live a normal life if you’re going into the hospital so often,” Preda said. “There are challenges that come with taking pills on your own, like having to hold yourself to a strict regimen, but the benefits to this bill outweigh the drawbacks.”
To promote the bill, Up Cancer is writing a letter to a group of legislators and is hoping to arrange meetings to discuss getting the bill passed. The club is also posting on social media and is planning to speak on podcasts including Health Outlook, a podcast hosted by Up Cancer member and LSA sophomore Anirudh Maddali.
Kinesiology junior Natalie Goldberg, Up Cancer vice president and co-founder, helped to bring the organization to the University in summer 2020. After interning at the broader organization, which has the mission of educating, engaging and empowering those touched by cancer, Goldberg said she realized the value and impact a branch at the University could have on Michigan’s cancer community. She said she was also motivated by personal ties to a family member who had cancer.
“My grandfather lost his battle with pancreatic cancer,” Goldberg said. “Way too many people know the burden of losing a loved one to cancer, and while cancer sometimes feels like an unfixable cause, Up Cancer accomplishes so much to bring joy and even distraction to patients, survivors and their families — I wanted to be a part of an organization that does that.”
With the club having been started during the pandemic, members had to get creative when planning virtual events. This past fall, the Arts and Music Committee of Up Cancer hosted origami training sessions over Zoom for cancer patients to promote mental health and dropped off arts-and-crafts packages to cancer patients’ homes. The Health and Fitness Committee hosted yoga classes over Zoom and created playlists for meditation and working out.
Goldberg faced COVID-19 related challenges when starting the club, including safely administering events, recruiting members and holding meetings. The club has found ways to make virtual meetings and events meaningful and engaging. Goldberg spoke on accomplishing goals in a less-than-ideal situation.
“While this is no one’s ideal way to accomplish all of our goals, everyone is accomodating to this pandemic together, and ensuring that this lifestyle doesn’t permit us from achieving the overall mission of the organization: educating, engaging and empowering those touched by cancer,” Goldberg said.
LSA junior Sonny Mulpuri, an Up Cancer member on the Legislative Committee, joined the club to take steps toward making a positive change for cancer patients.
“I’ve had family members and friends who have been affected by cancer, and I think that being a part of this club can be the first step in making active change for others affected,” Mulpuri said. “I think that having support by your side while going through something like cancer can give you reassurance; here at Up Cancer, we don’t believe anyone should go through that by themself.”
Daily Staff Reporter Chava Makman-Levinson can be reached at email@example.com.
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