Please support Tom’s Medical Fund Appeal
Tom was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in July 2012
Friends and family have started a fundraising appeal to fund the cost of medical care not funded by the insurance company; any funds not required for Tom’s medical care will go direct to Leukaemia research UK. (Medical Care not funded by insurance; drugs, insurance premium, any other medical care costs as a result of Tom’s illness)
Tom moved to America (following his family who preceded him) to go to college. After finishing general studies at Cabrillo College (spring 2009), he went on to finish his Bachelor’s Degree at CSU Chico. Tom finished his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Project Management. He graduated top of his class, being honored Summa Cum Laude in December 2011.
Tom was hired out of college to do a manager in training (MIT) program for a company called Pool Corp. We moved from Chico to Rocklin to start his new job. He completed the program in early July and was transferred to another location as assistant branch manager. Knowing where he would be located for a bit we started looking for houses, etc.
After returning from his final presentation in Louisiana and completing his first week of work in his new position, we took Tom to the doctor (July 23rd) as he was experiencing some bad headaches and beyond extreme fatigue. We thought it could be from all of the excitement of travel, a new job, house hunting, etc. The doctor said it could be something as simple as a virus or as serious as an autoimmune, so he took a blood sample. The next day Tom received a frantic phone call from the doctor saying that he had extreme anemia and sky high white blood cell counts. He had already called the emergency room and told them to expect Tom.
On July 25th after many blood transfusions and more diagnostic tests than imaginable, Tom was given the news that preliminary blood work revealed that he had leukemia. We had to wait for bone marrow results to confirm exactly which type and when they came in he was officially diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
He began intense chemotherapy treatments on the Monday and remained in the hospital for the first three weeks as the chemo was wiping out 99% of his bone marrow and leaving him highly susceptible to secondary infections. The first two rounds were rough, but his progress was rather “textbook” as the oncologist put it.
September 2nd Tom was admitted back in with high fever and extremely low blood counts. After multiple blood transfusions and lack of response count wise, he had a short stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Once they were able to grow blood cultures and figure out that he had E. Coli, they were able to get him on specific antibiotics which cleared him up within 24 hours.
Tom was returned home and then carried on business as usual. They did a marrow aspiration late September to check how the first two treatments did. When readmitted October 8th, Dr. Colbourn told Tom that the results yielded a positive read for leukocytes. Typically they expect that the marrow will read zero after the first two treatments and Tom’s read 10% (down from 90%, but still a positive read). Currently our plan is to have another marrow after this round, but before the next round. It will yield the results after four full treatments and we hope/expect it to show zero leukocytes. We probably won’t expect to get the results until end of October/early November. IF there is a positive read, we will have to talk about plan b, which could involve a bone marrow transplant.
The Insurance Logistics
With Tom being off of work during this intense treatment, he is only eligible to keep his existing insurance benefits for twelve weeks. On top of that, his insurance company originally refused to cover anything as it could be a “possible pre-existing condition” though we have now cleared that up. Even still, it is a constant battle full of repeals and re-billing to get them to cover anything. Currently, we are in the middle of appealing their denial of coverage for the drug Rituximab. This drug targets cells with certain markers so that the chemo may work more effectively. The insurance says it is not an approved drug for his particular diagnosis; however knowing insurance often denies usage of this drug, our oncologist held off on using it until he got results showing a “significant amount” of cells with these markers (of which Tom nearly has 20%).
This drug costs $14,000 each time. Tom has currently had five of these treatments. So, if the insurance doesn’t cover it we are currently up to $70,000 dollars and he receives it before each chemo cycle (twice every three weeks). This is just one of the many battles we have had with this company and while we hope they accept the appeal and cover it, we know there will be many more bills to come.
All of that said, we are incredibly thankful for the outpouring of love and support that we have received from so many people and organizations. From family and friends both in the States and in England, organized charity events, organizations supplying us with information on the disease/cure as well as financial assistance, and visits from loved ones to help us out day to day. We would like to extend our eternal gratitude to all of those who have been in some way, shape, or form involved in supporting us. Thank you.