Patient Spotlights



“You can still be brave and strong and get help,” shared Alicia, a recent Ellie Fund patient.

Asking for support is often the only barrier to receiving support from Ellie Fund, whose only requirements are applicants must be in treatment for breast cancer and either living or receiving treatment in Massachusetts. All too often, Ellie Fund hears from patients like Alicia who question themselves, “I felt weird asking for help. Could I even be eligible?”

Alicia and her husband were both fully employed and fully insured when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019 and then thyroid cancer in 2020. That did not stop the medical bills from piling up from her deductibles and copays. In addition to her cancer diagnosis, the family had their daughter headed to her freshman year at UMass Amherst and their 13-year-old son at home to think about.

Through the help of her social worker at Dana-Farber, Alicia connected with Ellie Fund. Their family of four was granted a six-month grant of gas and Big Y grocery gift cards. Assistance with their gas costs was especially important during Alicia’s chemotherapy. She lives in Rutland, Massachusetts which is about 52 miles outside of Boston. Due to COVID restrictions, Alicia’s husband would drive her to Dana Farber, drive home while she was receiving treatment and then back to pick her up, racking up over 200 miles in a day. After her chemotherapy, Alicia had to drive into Boston daily for radiation. “The gas cards allowed us to fill up our tanks and then budget more money towards my hospital payment plans.” The financial repercussions of cancer treatment create toxic stress for patients. Ellie Fund’s goal with its financial support is to allow patients some breathing room as they plan for the future. “During all of the craziness, the Ellie Fund gift cards were little blessings that lifted me up,” Alicia warmly stated.

Alicia adjusted her whole family’s lifestyle after her diagnosis. “It was important to me to eat really healthy during treatment and remove processed foods from the entire family’s diet,” she explained. Unfortunately, fresh produce and healthy foods are more expensive. The Big Y gift cards gave Alicia flexibility in her grocery budget. It also gave her something to look forward to during treatment. Grocery shopping was her only outing besides doctors appointments during the thick of the pandemic. It was her time to herself and a way to continue to provide and feed her whole family.

Ellie Fund is more than just a grant-making organization. They want patients to know there is a community behind them. Alicia felt that warmth, “It felt good to be cared about… To know someone read my application and listened to what we needed.” Regardless of the size of a person’s support system, Ellie Fund can be part of the team supporting patients through the difficulties of breast cancer treatment.