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Jennifer Needs Help with Private Radiation Therapy & Other Cancer Costs

Jennifer Needs Help with Private Radiation Therapy & Other Cancer Costs

Personal message

Updated: 15 June 2022

Jennifer Van den Berg has had to go the private route in order to secure beneficial radiation therapy in order to restrict the chances of her cancer recurring. The Gauteng Department of Health’s Radiation Oncology crisis has caused a delay in Jennifer’s treatment - to wait a further six months for treatment through the public sector would negate the effectiveness of the treatment and heighten the chances of local recurrence, potentially leading to metastasis.

In February 2021 Jennifer Van den Berg was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), a form of breast cancer that affects only 1-5% of breast cancer patients.

IBC is a breast cancer overachiever. It is extremely rare, incredibly volatile and has a competitive spirit that makes it extremely difficult to beat. And it really loves being ignored, which is exactly what the Gauteng Department of Health in South Africa is currently doing.

Jennifer has been fighting both IBC and the Gauteng Department of Health since her diagnosis. Her tumour was fast-growing - it appeared overnight and reached 4.5x4.5 cm in a period of three weeks. During regular chemotherapy, it had grown to close to 7x7 cm.

Jennifer had to buy a number of cycles of the targeted chemotherapy drug, Trastuzumab, privately, at just over R5000 per cycle, in order to shrink her tumour to an operable level. The Gauteng Department of Health refused to supply this life-saving drug as Jennifer’s cancer was classified as Stage III (entry-level for IBC) and, according to protocol, they only supply Stages I & II patients prior to surgery. Without the Trastuzumab Jennifer would probably never have had her operation.

The oncology crisis, coupled with these exclusionary treatment policies and guidelines, has made the process incredibly difficult for Jennifer, and a number of other IBC survivors, to navigate. If IBC was recognised individually by the GDoH, as it is internationally, and not categorised as a usual Stage III breast cancer, Jennifer may have been triaged more urgently and received radiation therapy earlier. The need for this early treatment in IBC patients is greater because the chance of local recurrence and metastasis is much higher due to the volatility and growth rates of this specific form of breast cancer.

As it turns out, Jennifer almost ran out of time for beneficial radiation therapy. After being told by senior management of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital’s Radiation Oncology department, four months after her double mastectomy, that she could only expect treatment in six months' time, we managed to organise free consultations with two private Radiation Oncologists to establish how urgent the radiation therapy actually was, and what funds we would need to raise to get Jennifer’s treatment carried out privately.

Both doctors confirmed Jennifer’s immediate need for the treatment, with one specialist saying that she would not even take Jennifer’s money six months after surgery, as the treatment would be ineffective.

One of the private Radiation Oncologists has done his utmost to assist Jennifer. He has discounted his rate and arranged for her immediate treatment. Even with his discounts and free consultation, the cost of the radiation therapy alone amounts to R77405.83.

Fortunately for Jennifer, an angel friend has come to the rescue and will loan Jennifer over half of the treatment cost, with her family loaning her the remainder. She remains obligated to pay back the full amount.

Added to the cost of radiation therapy, Jennifer is going to have to pay a travel and accommodation amount of approximately R7000 for commuting and her 5-week stay (excluding weekends) at a CANSA Interim Home.

Finally, Jennifer still has to cover more Trastuzumab which, after surgery, dramatically lessens the chance of metastasis. She has been supplied with six months of the drug by the Gauteng Department of Health, with the last publically-funded cycle being administered towards the end of June. Thereafter Jennifer will need to cover the last five cycles required, which will amount to over R25000.00.

Between loans, travel and accommodation, and future Trastuzumab treatment, the cost of Jennifer’s cancer will amount to about R110000.00. On top of this, we still need to pay monthly expenses and rent so our financial situation has become unmanageable without some form of assistance.

These sorts of expenses could, and should, have been avoided if the Gauteng Department of Health had carried out the obligation that it has to every patient. In Jennifer’s case, and those of too many others, the neglect in being able to provide the health services stipulated in the South African Department of Health’s Clinical Guidelines for Breast Cancer Control and Management amounts to a flagrant abuse of basic human rights. The Gauteng Department of Health has failed Jennifer and continues to fail many others without consequence.

Jennifer Van den Berg really needs your help to repay the kind loans given, and some of the unwarranted expenses brought about by the failure of the Gauteng Department of Health. Unlike the GDoH, none of you are obligated to help nor would Jennifer ever expect you to, but every little bit of assistance will be appreciated from the bottom of her heart. And her heart is beating very strongly!

Thank you.

Jennifer started a 5-week long course of radiation therapy on 6 June 2022. 

An in-depth article on Jennifer's plight can be found here

An article regarding the cost of radiation therapy is available here.

Updated: Jennifer is currently undergoing her second week of private radiation therapy. She is feeling exceptionally tired and has found it difficult being all alone in the Interim home but, in general, she is in high spirits. The weight of the financial burden remains.

Donations

  • Jun 19, 2022 - USD $ 33.71
  • "God bless x" - I

  • Jun 18, 2022 - USD $ 6.24
  • "Good luck" - T L Picker

  • Jun 15, 2022 - R 200.00
  • "You will be healed in Jesus's name." - W

  • Jun 15, 2022 - R 100.00
  • "Good luck Jenny" - Eilleen

  • Jun 15, 2022 - R 100.00
  • "You can fight this Jen" - Leane

  • May 05, 2022 - R 1 000.00
  • "

    Hope is the last thing ever lost.

    " - Julie Yelseth

  • May 03, 2022 - R 3 000.00
  • "Heartbroken to read your story, Jen. Keep fighting. I believe you to be far stronger than you might realise. Xxx" - Nax

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Statistics

Donations to date

R 4 968.11

Fundraising target

R 110 000.00
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Jennifer Van den Berg Medical Campaign

Jennifer Van den Berg Medical Campaign Logo

Hi, I am Warren Potter and I am from Krugersdorp, Gauteng.

My partner, Jennifer Van den Berg, was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February 2021. After undergoing over a year of chemotherapy (including Trastuzumab) and a double mastectomy operation she is having to fund private radiation therapy as the GDoH will not assist her in time.