Finding the Money to Fight Cancer
SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)


Finding the Money to Fight Cancer

As the bills pile up, it's worth checking to see whether you qualify for financial help for breast cancer or another serious illness. The programs listed below aren't just for low-income families or those without insurance; some also help those who are insured handle the expense of breast cancer or other illnesses. Other groups on the list may not provide cash help, but offer free counseling or other support services regardless of income. Use this list to identify state and local groups, as well as to contact national organizations and government funders.
Help and/or Referrals to State and Local Organizations


Susan G. Komen for the Cure


Provides referrals to local resources that provide funding, as well as nationwide assistance programs, based on patients' eligibility.

Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization


Offers the country's only 24-hour hotline staffed by trained breast cancer survivors, with interpreters in 150 languages. Refers callers to local groups that provide funding.





Trained social workers provide free in-person, online, and phone counseling and support services for all types of cancer and for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis, not only patients themselves. Limited financial grants available to qualifying patients for prostheses, oral medication, medical equipment, transportation, and even babysitters.

Patient Access Network Foundation


Will help defray expenses for prescription therapies; income criteria for eligibility can vary, but a family of four making up to four times the poverty level annually may qualify. Covers many serious illnesses, including several types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF)


Acts as a liaison among patients, their physicians, and insurance companies to ensure access to care and to help maintain patients' financial stability. Under the Copay Relief Program, provides direct copay assistance for pharmaceutical products, including drugs and chemotherapy. The "National Financial Resources Guide" lists by state the local agencies that can offer financial help; download it free from the PAF Web site or call for a free hard copy.


Federal Programs Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act

Centers for Disease Control
Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer

Guarantees breast cancer and cervical cancer screening for low-income women (income ceilings vary by state but generally cap at 250 percent of the federal poverty level -- that means $25,525 for a single woman this year; $51,625 for a family of four). Women diagnosed through this program can qualify for free treatment. Web site lists contacts for all states.

Social Security and Medicare


To qualify, a woman must be considered permanently disabled, which means she cannot work because she has a medical condition expected to last a year or more, or to result in death. She can earn up to $900 a month and still be eligible. There is a five-month waiting period from the time disability is diagnosed; regular Social Security disability checks start on the sixth month. Two years after someone starts receiving disability checks, she automatically also gets Medicare coverage for hospital and outpatient care.


Drug Company-Funded Programs


GlaxoSmithKline Tykerb(r) CARES

866-4-TYKERB (866-489-5372)

Patients or physicians can call for assistance in obtaining Tykerb and answers to Tykerb-related questions. Reimbursement counselors help breast cancer patients understand their insurance coverage and assist in identifying alternative financial support.



Pfizer FirstRESOURCE


Provides uninsured patients with various Pfizer medicines for free or at a savings, including breast cancer and other oncology drugs, if patients fit certain household income qualifications. Assistance in locating other funding sources is also available for the uninsured. Counselors help insured patients navigate the insurance reimbursement process. FirstRESOURCE falls under the umbrella of the Pfizer Helpful Answers program, which provides free or discounted medicines for patients with various illnesses.

Rx Assist


This Web site lists a free directory of companies that provide prescription medications for a variety of illnesses, at little or no cost depending on financial need.

Genentech Single Point of Contact (SPOC)


Genentech, maker of the breast cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin, set up SPOC as a reimbursement resource for its products. Eligible patients can receive free medicine, referrals for copay assistance, and other reimbursement support. Some programs are open to patients who have health insurance, others only to those without.

National Breast Cancer Coalition


A grassroots organization that works to increase federal funding for breast cancer and improve access to clinical trials for women. Its informational booklet, "Guide to Quality Breast Cancer Care," can be downloaded from the Web site.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Commitment to Access


A patient assistance program that provides GSK prescription medicines (including Tykerb) to low-income cancer patients. To be eligible, patients must have no health insurance, and income for a family of four must be less than $100,000 a year.


Click on the Web link to reach the group, or call the phone number for more information.

Originally published on, October 2007.