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Patients battling cancer feel pain at gas pump

Patients combatting cancer are facing challenges with fuel costs rising
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 09:27:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With gas prices still hovering far above average, people battling cancer are concerned this will pose a barrier in receiving life-saving treatment.

The American Cancer Society is raising money to help fund transportation for cancer patients like gas cards, cab passes and non-emergency transportation, but that funding is being eaten up by prices at the pump.

Chuck Miller estimates he spends about $130 dollars a week driving from Adrian, Missouri to University of Kansas Cancer Center in the metro getting vital radiation he needs to beat cancer sometime having to make the same trip back five times a week.

“Driving the best vehicle I have for gas mileage, which is about 20 miles a gallon, it eats you alive," said Miller.

Miller is not alone, Vince Seiwert lives in Pittsburgh, Kansas. He was diagnosed with lymphoma and is undergoing a bone marrow transplant but getting the care he needs has cost him.

"I was surprised to look at my chart the other day and realize that I'd made over 75 trips, it runs about $60 round trip just in fuel and not much less wear and tear on the car," Seiwert said.

Helping both of these men are gas cards provided by the American Cancer Society.

In April, the University of Kansas Health System received a $25,000 grant from the ACS to help cancer patients with transportation costs.

Allocation looks differently depending on where the patient lives and the cost of what type of transportation they need.

The grant is supposed to last them for an entire year but gas prices are posing a threat.

ACS helped the health system in calculating mileage to and from the hospital and how to convert this into the cost of gas and changed calculation this year to account for the increase in gas prices.

The University of Kansas Health System is also planning to utilize a variety of other oncology-specific grant funding to assist cancer patients.

"This is the largest amount we've gotten from ACS, we got a grant last fall for about $15,000, we use that in about three months," explained Gail Saunders, social worker at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. "We have one year to use the $25,000 but at the rate we're going we've almost spent half of that already, so it won't last an entire year."

The University of Kansas Health System says it's important for cancer patients to follow treatment procedures and try to schedule as many appointments as they can within a day, but that’s not always feasible.

"As the price rises, our money doesn't go as far and so we're not able to help as many patients," Saunders said. "It's really disheartening to know that that's coming down the pipe."

Both Miller and Seiwert say the gas cards are helping them stay afloat, but with prices at the pump staying high, they are already thinking about how it’ll impact their lifestyle.

"I would still get there but it's just it's tougher. I mean, with gas prices, economy and groceries and all that going up, it's getting tougher for everybody," Miller said.

Those looking to help can make a monetary donation to the American Cancer Society at the following address — American Cancer Society - Kansas, PO Box 171335. Kansas City, Kansas 66117.