Siteman Cancer Center’s Patient Care Fund

The Financial Burden of Cancer

Cancer can be physically and emotionally taxing, from the initial diagnosis and throughout treatment. What is often overlooked is the financial distress cancer can cause patients and their families. This can be a result of high medical costs or because a patient might have to work less or quit working altogether while receiving treatment.

Siteman Cancer Center’s Patient Care Fund provides financial assistance to cancer patients when all other resources have been exhausted. Whether it’s a copayment, a prescription or even a utility bill, the Patient Care Fund can provide interim assistance while the social work team seeks out other resources for long-term support. The fund specifically benefits patients within the Medical Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Divisions at Siteman Cancer Center.

“They have cancer, and the situation is exacerbated by their financial situation,” says Anne Rihanek, a social worker at Siteman Cancer Center. “There is a strong need for this, and it can be difficult to find community resources.”

Annual Fundraisers

The Patient Care Fund has been in existence for more than 20 years, but it was underfunded until the creation of two fundraising events: Rally Tennis for Cancer Care and the Steinberg Winter Classic generate more than 90 percent of the fund.

Mark Platt (L) and Bob Barczewski (R), organizers of Rally Tennis for Cancer Care.

The Steinberg Winter Classic is an annual 3-on-3 hockey tournament. All funds raised are given to a select few cancer centers in St. Louis, including Siteman Cancer Center. As an annual recipient of these funds since 2011, the Patient Care Fund has been able to provide added financial assistance to patients.

Rally Tennis for Cancer Care, another fundraising event, is an annual tennis tournament started in 2005 by Bob Barczewski, the director of business operations for the Oncology Division at Washington University School of Medicine, and Mark Platt, a local tennis organizer. Bob, an avid tennis player, worked with Mark to create a fundraising event for Siteman Cancer Center through Mark’s experience with rally tennis. A normal tennis match only involves two or four players at a time, but rally tennis can accommodate 16 players, making it more appealing for a fundraising event.

“Stem Cell Man”

To raise more money, the event offers sponsorships and sells t-shirts featuring the “Stem Cell Man” designed by John DiPersio, MD, PhD, Washington University’s Chief of Oncology, at Siteman Cancer Center. In 2017, over 250 people participated in Rally Tennis, raising more than $35,000. “It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday — having fun and raising money while doing it,” says Bob.

Supporting Cancer Patients

Funds from these events go directly to the Patient Care Fund to assist patients with financial distress due to a recent cancer diagnosis. Patients can self-identify or be identified by the care team. To allocate the funds, the physicians and social workers make an assessment of each patient’s needs.

In 2016, the Patient Care Fund helped 360 patients. The fund has helped pay for prescriptions or prescription copayments, utility bills, transportation including mileage reimbursement and cabs, rent or mortgage and COBRA premiums.

“The Patient Care Fund has made a significant difference in the lives of so many patients,” says Anne. “WIthout it, some might not have been able to receive treatment.”

If you or a loved one needs assistance, you are encouraged to speak with your medical team who will direct you to a social worker.

You can also make a donation to the Patient Care Fund online.